Can You Sing the Seven Continents?

Why we use and love chants, jingles, and songs at Providence

Thanksgiving 011At Providence, students start learning through chants, jingles and songs from the very first week of school.  Mrs. Kuntz, the beloved kindergarten teacher, has written a number of songs and poems that her class learns throughout the year; The Seven Continents, The Story of Jesus’ Birth, The First Thanksgiving, Spiders are Arachnids,  and The Planet Song are just a few of the gems her class memorizes during the year.  The kindergarten students love these songs and enjoy performing them together as a class.

In all subjects, as children progress from simple, concrete ideas to more complex abstractions, they benefit from having certain foundational things solidly memorized. Their minds are freed to delve into the joys of more complex thought when the foundational things have become automatic.

In Shurley English Grammar, students in first through fourth grades recite jingles about parts of speech and how they function. Because the students review the same jingles each year (with new ones being added as new concepts are taught in the older grades), the children have crucial information embedded permanently in their minds. This information helps them to understand the immediate concept that is being taught, and becomes a resource that the students can continually draw from as they progress to more complex lessons in later grades. The students’ understanding is easily enriched when they have thoroughly memorized the basics.

In history, the foundational pegs are an understanding of a certain chronology – the big events and when they happened. With a timeline mastered at a young age, students can more fully comprehend and enjoy learning history when they are older. A mental picture of the geography of our world (land masses, oceans, rivers, countries, states, capitals) also helps students to easily understanding history, even making parts of it come alive as they study.

In math, although understanding and problem solving are primarily important, students still memorize the basic facts; addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Who can enjoy the puzzles of more complex math when simple operations are a struggle?  Some things must be committed to long term memory and made available to the student for automatic recall.

Singing or chanting the basics or grammar of a subject is simply a fun and effective way to input significant chunks of crucial information in the brain while ensuring that it is retained in long term memory. Repetition is crucial for success.  Repetition that occurs over a significant span of time is a powerful tool with lasting benefits.