The National Children's Repository is doing an important work — one that might be considered "child's play." They are collecting playground songs, chants and folksongs to archive them for the future. As the world is becoming focused towards globalism, there is a concern that cultures are losing their identity as the elderly pass away. These stories in song form, passed from generation to generation, are getting lost. As school districts see the playground as a hindrance to literacy rather than a stepping stone, these playground songs are being lost. Why are these songs so important?
Songs as History
Although historical battles are won, lost, and recorded, songs are typically left out because they are passed down through parents and grandparents. A recent nationwide survey by Marilyn Ward found that a majority of students, from elementary school to high school,
"could not sing patriotic, folk and children's songs, because teachers who teach them at all frequently don't go over the songs enough for students to learn them," Ward said. "Most students could not be expected to sing from memory songs such as 'Home on the Range,' 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' or "Bingo.' "
Songs as Learning Tools
The sing-song way a playground chant goes, along with the hand gestures, help in childhood learning. Together, they aid in the child's understanding of language and grammar. So although the child may just appear to be playing, that play time is actually building up the structure that will help the child learn in class. Children who have musical training also have better verbal memory than children who don't.
Songs for Learning Difficulties
Children who clap, stomp, slap, and snap in these chants and circle games are able to learn as these tactile pathways help in other areas. When children are allowed to play repetitive games and songs, they have a higher enthusiasm for learning than those who are forced into regimented academics. Could it be the instances of ADD increased as playground play, and other higher learning social games were nixed for more indoor activities such as video games and computer lab time?
How to Get Your Child Involved
Simply check out the NCFR website, send them an email with an attached file of a video or audio of your child singing a song or game. Or you can have them call the toll free number, 1-877-220-0262, and have it recorded over the phone. It's a great opportunity to teach your child about the history of song and the importance of culture. The best part of it is that your child will feel as if she were able to help be a part of history. Too often our children feel powerless to change a problem. There is so little they can do to visibly change the world. But by simply setting up a song for them to sing, you can explain how their song will help others in the future learn about the past.