Marc Lambert: Tune in to young children's needs with a song

This is Bookbug Week, an annual celebration of Scotland's national book gifting programme, when hundreds of free events for children and babies are held across the country.

Scottish Book Trusts Bookbug encourages story-telling for kids
Scottish Book Trusts Bookbug encourages story-telling for kids

This year’s theme is Bookbug’s Big Giggle which encourages parents and carers to share playful songs and stories with their children and highlights that laughter is essential for wellbeing.

This shared fun between parent and child not only creates ­memories and strengthens bonds, but is also a great tool to support good mental health in babies and toddlers.

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Sharing stories and picture books can help babies and children make sense of the world. It’s a great way to explore feelings and thoughts on the world around us. It also helps develop a keen sense of empathy, which can support positive mental health. But what about songs and singing with children?

It can be quite a daunting thing for a parent to share songs, especially if you were not sung to as a child. To aid the playful theme of Bookbug Week, , Scottish Book Trust has launched a brand new Song and Rhyme Library on their website, www.scottishbooktrust.com.

With funding from Creative Scotland’s Youth Music Initiative, this brilliant new resource allows users to search the online catalogue of fun demonstration videos for parents, carers and Early Years practitioners. Visitors can look up songs and rhymes to suit different moods and themes, and for each video there are suggestions on how to vary the words and actions for different ages.

The Song and Rhyme library will help families discover new songs, remember forgotten favourites and provide tips on actions and movements to accompany the tunes.

Playing music, and the opportunity to participate in musical activities, is recognised as having a strong positive impact on many aspects of children’s overall development.

By using music in the home, ­parents are supporting their ­children’s development in a number of key areas including literacy, numeracy, motor skills, vocabulary and social skills. Sharing songs has also been shown to have key biological benefits for parent and child, strengthening relationships and developing positive bonds.

When families are rhyming, singing and sharing stories, they are developing their own rhythms and unique experiences, plus family song-sharing traits that can be passed onto future generations.

For small children unable to ­converse with adults, these musical experiences can be important ways of communicating and expressing feelings. Once these rhythms are developed, families are more ­connected and have a better understanding of each other, which has a positive impact on the mental health of everyone involved.

Singing and laughing with your child is one of the best ways to spend time and brings countless benefits for you both.

Marc Lambert is chief executive officer of Scottish Book Trust.