“Silent night, Holy night. All is calm, all is bright…”
You have probably sung this song to yourself, or along with a choir or the radio every year. I know I sang it to myself as I wrote that line. Do you ever catch yourself reminiscing as you hum a song you have known since childhood?
Think back to one of your happiest, warmest memories of the holidays when you were a child. What do you remember? You may recall smells and songs, and how those things are attached to your family traditions and celebrations.
Perhaps there was a song passed down to you from your parents or grandparents, and hearing or singing that song will always remind you of them and that time. Songs can evoke strong memories and the feelings related to them, and maybe you want to share them with your own family. That is the power of a song.
For fun, while I was writing this, I had a conversation with my 21 year-old daughter. I wanted to know what songs she remembered from her childhood Christmases. It made her smile and laugh as she remembered and replied “Shrek – 12 days of Christmas. I don’t think there has been a Christmas that we haven’t played it.” I had to laugh and smile with her because it made my heart feel so warm remembering my daughter when she was younger. I had no idea it had meant that much to her. And the Shrek Christmas CD had became part of our family holiday tradition just by playing it once years ago.
Songs and rhymes not only elicit fond memories but they can also be a handy parenting tool. If you haven’t tried it or witnessed it, try this next time your child is fussy, mad, pouty or generally uncooperative. Start singing Itsy Bitsy Spider. Or any rhyme that comes to mind. Your child might be surprised and distracted enough with a little song that they want to join you in singing, or just quiet down to listen to you. The distraction might stop a tantrum from coming on.
When can you use this distraction? Anytime! Where can you use this distraction? Anywhere! Kids can easily get frustrated when moving from one task or errand to another, so these transition times are great times to use songs. The holiday season line-ups and car trips are also good times to try singing with your little one to make the moment happier for both of you!
A couple of bonuses are that anyone can use some extra bonding time during this hectic season, and without even realizing it, you are supporting your child in their development of oral literacy.
As Buddy the Elf would say “the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear!” —from the movie Elf.
Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Please join us in the new year for a Rhymes that Bind program for more rhymes you can sing with you children! Check the Centre for Family Literacy website mid December for the winter program schedule.