Remember the time when you grooved to the song, If You Are Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands...? Now, there’s another reason to clap and sing the number. According to a study conducted in Israel, clapping while singing is likely to spur development of important skills in children.
“We found that children in the first, second and third grades who clap while singing songs demonstrate skills which are absent in children who don’t take part in similar activities,” said Idit Sulkin, a member of Ben-Gurion University (BGU) Music Science Lab in the Department of the Arts.
“We also found that children who spontaneously perform hand-clapping songs in the yard during recess have neater handwriting, write better and make fewer spelling errors,” said Sulkin.
Warren Brodsky, the music psychologist who supervised her doctoral dissertation, said Sulkin’s findings lead to the presumption that “children who don’t participate in such games may be at a higher risk of developmental learning problems like dyslexia and dyscalculia”.
“There’s no doubt such activities train the brain and influence the development in other areas. The teachers also believe that social integration is better for these children than those who don’t take part in these songs,” Brodsky adds. As part of the study, Sulkin went to several elementary school classrooms and engaged the children in either a board of education sanctioned music appreciation programme or hand-clapping songs training — each lasting for 10 weeks.
“Within a very short period of time, the children, who until then hadn’t taken part in such activities, caught upon their cognitive abilities to those who did,” she said. But this finding only surfaced for the group of children undergoing hand-clapping songs training.
The result led Sulkin to conclude that hand-clapping songs should be made an integral part of education for children aged six to 10, for the purpose of motor and cognitive training.
“It’s a transition stage that leads them to the next phases of growing up,” she said.