How to boost child’s memory by reciting or singing

During the recent Home Practice Intensive Workshops*, I showed a video of Vee reciting flash memory and the parents were interested to learn more on how to achieve that.

Young children learn easily through reciting or singing. These activities help to boost their memory power for efficient learning as they grow.

Here are some tips…

1. Careful selection

Our favourites are classical music, nursery rhymes, educational songs and audiobooks.

During my first pregnancy, I bought several CDs of classical music and nursery rhymes to listen to every day. After Vee was born, I continued playing CDs to him every day. Perhaps that’s why he’s so into music?

2. Mind the pitch

Some CDs include children vocalists who sing out of tune or pitch. Try to avoid these and select the ones with better singing.

3. Keep the volume down

I keep the volume down so that it’s comfortable to the child’s ears, and helps maintain the peace at home. Low volume in the background also aids subconscious right brain learning.

When the baby & toddler are sleeping, Vee uses these headphones, which come with lockable volume control.

4. Moderate period of time

While playing music may help the child learn, I keep it moderate by allowing lots of time with no music in the background. This allows the child to sing and recite whatever he wishes to, so called producing his learning “output”.

I also use this time to observe what are the audio files that he likes and has benefitted from.

5. Use various languages

I play songs and audio books in English, Chinese and Bahasa Melayu to expose the children to multiple languages. You may play songs in foreign languages too.

6. Get your hands and body moving

For babies, I show them baby hand signs when singing some songs. For toddlers, I incorporate hand and body movements.

Here’s more on our experience with baby hand signs.

7. Use flash cards

Some songs can be sung while flashing cards. For instance, the ABC Song is popular with toddlers, and that’s how Vee and Jae learnt the alphabet sequence.

Chinese classics, Linking Memory (with funny stories) and Flash Memory (without funny stories) also go well with flash cards.

8. It’s ok to repeat and repeat

When flashing cards, we generally don’t repeat often. However for favourite songs and books, it’s fine to repeat because many children simply love listening to them over and over again!

As an extreme case, Vee requested to listen to “Ten Little Indian Boys” on loop at home and in the car for ONE WHOLE YEAR. Of course, I found excuses to expose him to other songs (and give my poor ears a break), yet he kept requesting the same song.

After that, he went through phases of different favourite songs.

Here’s a screenshot of my iTunes most-frequently-played songs:

Mummy's Homeschool repeat listening

We’ve 2 versons of “Ten Little Indian Boys”, listened to 1,041 times on my laptop, excluding the thousands of times on my speakers. Through this song, Vee mastered singing from 1 to 10, from 10 to 1, and changing the lyrics to fit in names of people he likes. And I believe his love for this song started him off on a musical journey.

For speed-reading sessions, he also enjoys the same book read repeatedly to him over days or weeks. After that, he could recite it easily. Same goes for Jae.

9. Show how to pronounce the words

When preparing a young child to recite or sing, I’d show him clearly how to pronounce the words. This means an occasional session of facing him and demonstrating lip movements.

10. Practice makes perfect

It’s exciting when the toddler does his first recitation. Let her practise as often as she’d like to and make it a fun activity. I bought a 1-minute sandtimer and Vee loves reciting the flash memory set faster than it.

Alright, here’s a video of Vee reciting a Chinese story book at 2 years 9 months:

Jae is also beginning to sing entire songs and recite stories at 2 years 7 months. He barely spoke until 2 years old, yet shortly after he spoke, he was able to use long sentences. He started singing only recently and went straight to singing the entire ABC Song clearly. So apparently, he has been absorbing input from our conversations and home practice all along!


Here are the latest resources for your home practice:

  • Flashcards – Alphabet (109kb) – Small and capital letters A to Z, to sing with the ABC Song
  • Flashcards – Multiple births (718kb) – From twins to nonuplets, using duplicates of our baby’s photo. Direct printing style.
  • National Library Board eResources: If you’re from Singapore, MUST check this out! My favourite is borrowing children’s ebooks and audiobooks from Overdrive, under eBooks. Super-convenient to read and listen from the iPad. Simply download the Overdrive app.

Have fun with reciting and singing!

Shichida flash cards memory games*

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8 thoughts on “How to boost child’s memory by reciting or singing”

  1. mievee @

    A mummy’s question:
    “What size of the alphabet cards should I print it on? Is A4 size ok?””

    My reply:
    “For music with more lyrics, I use A4.
    For ABC, A5 will do. Much easier to flash fast with the song.
    Have fun!”

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  3. Hi, i have a question, my 17 months son doesn’t let me show him flash cards and he always grabs them so i made pdf flash cards so that he can watch them on tv and while showing sometimes he doesn’t care and walk around, i want to know wheather in this case are my PowerPoint flashcards useful or not, and what do you think about 2_3 hours watching tv during a day, is it really harmful in your point of view.
    Thank you so much

    1. mievee @

      Hi Sahar, firstly, the most important question is this: what is your reason for showing your boy flashcards?

      Flashcards is just a teaching tool. The key is the mummy-teacher, who is you.

      Observe your boy’s learning needs at each stage. If he doesn’t like flashcards now, feel free to pause / stop for a few weeks. Explore other also-beneficial activities such as speed reading, singing, chit chatting, sign language, memory games and outdoor nature learning.

      When your bonding is strong and he trusts you to guide him in a relaxed and fun way, try showing 10 flashcards. If he loves it, show more at the next session.

      In my opinion, 2-3 hours of TV a day for anyone (child or adult) is unnecessary and takes up time that should have been better utilized and would lead to better learning outcomes. I’d prioritise the child’s time for sleep (12 hours or more for a young child), structured / guided play and free play. For us, with these 3 priorities and daily necessary life activities, there’s rarely time for TV. (My older children may watch short documentary video clips on animals / nature / science / music to supplement what we read.)

      You may

      and the latest screen time guidelines at

      For home practice guidance, check out my workshops:

      All the very best! 🙂

    1. mievee @

      Hi N, “flash memory” means flashing some flashcards in a fixed order and the child memorises the sequence.

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