Boosting Literacy Skills Through Music

Music and movement activities have many benefits for children’s development! In this article, our partners at Boogie Mites explain how music making and singing can help to develop strong foundations for literacy skills.

Published: 18 Jul 2022

Your children will be involved in Boogie Mites at pre-school and if you can also practise at home, the impact will be even greater. Regular practice will help develop the way children process sounds that they hear, making them ready for phonics (letter sounds), reading and writing at school.

Why Regular Music Practice Helps

Speaking and reading are based on phonemes – the smallest units of sound that make up words, like the ‘sh’ sound. Our auditory processing system makes sense of these sounds when we hear them, helping us to understand speech.

Neuroscience research has found that regular music practice involving sequencing of sounds, and playing with syllables and phonemes, helps develop your child’s auditory processing system. In turn, strengthening the foundations for phonics and word recognition.

Neuroscience evidence also shows how the ability to keep the beat and rhythmic awareness are closely linked to language and literacy skills.

It’s the regular repetition of these music activities that has the most effective impact. So, it follows that practice at home can provide an even greater support for development, helping your child to be ready for school.

Boosting Literacy Skills Through Music

How Does it Work?

Evidence shows that children who start school with a strong phonological (sound) awareness will be the strongest readers and writers by age 7-8.

Music Training helps children develop higher awareness of sounds. Music activities are often more engaging than phonics exercises, so children will be more attentive and motivated to take part.

Words and Sentences have an intrinsic rhythm. Children can develop awareness of this by developing their sound processing skills and playing with syllables of words through music activities.

Songs and Rhymes also have deliberate patterning and are extremely useful in developing the sound processing of stressed syllables – an area that is found to be weaker in children who suffer with dyslexia.

A Sense of Pattern supports children’s learning, enabling them to make links and notice connections between events and ideas, promoting thought and the capacity for general learning.

Children develop interest in things they think we are interested in, so we need to demonstrate interest in sounds all around us, to support their exploration of sounds.

What Happens at Nursery

Bright Horizons Nurseries follow the Boogie Mites School Ready Literacy Music Programme, which supports the National Strategy for Literacy Guidance, Letters and Sounds Phase 1.

At nursery, teaching is broken down into 3 key aspects, all of which can be linked with and supported through the songs and music activities included in the Boogie Mites School Ready Programme:

  • Tuning into sounds – listening and picking out sounds (auditory discrimination)
  • Listening and remembering sounds in the order they are heard (auditory memory and sequencing)
  • Talking about sounds – developing vocabulary and understanding of language and speech.

You can try incorporating these elements into your daily life at home with some of the Boogie Mites resources below.

Boosting Literacy Skills Through Music

Boogie Mites Music Programmes

Our School Ready Literacy Programme uses songs and activities that play with tempo, dynamics, timbre and pitch. We use homemade percussion instruments with some songs and the themes are always fun for young children, featuring jungles, transport and under the sea. Many different genres of upbeat music are used to offer a diverse experience, and to keep the adults as involved and as motivated as the children. Children can be progressed from simple sequences of actions and sounds to more complicated sequences and rhythms.

Five easy ways to develop literacy through musical play at home…

  • Play with voice sounds – sing high and then low, fast and then slow, loud and then soft…
  • Use instruments to keep the beat such as shakers, sticks and drums.
  • Keep the beat with actions – marching, bobbing up and down, body percussion such as clapping, stamping, and thigh-tapping
  • Develop a sense of rhythm using tapping sticks to tap out the rhythm (syllables) of words and tap along with the rhythm of the music.
  • Leading sequencing of vocal sounds, actions, and instrumental sounds for your child to repeat, then let them make up the sequence and you repeat.

Resources for Bright Horizons Families

You can purchase digital products for home use from our BH Boogie Mites shop page, theses include the songs and six videos of Boogie Mites teachers leading music workshops. Your children will love sharing the songs they enjoy at nursery with you and the wider family at home, you can ensure they get the repetition to maximise the potential benefits, and it’s fun! –

Boogie Mites also have a Facebook page for parents where they share tips, resources and music-making ideas. You can follow it here: