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Tunes as Teaching Tools

Q. Why can my 4-year-old sing the whole alphabet song but not remember the letters in her name?

A. Information that's set to a melody is often easier to recall. It's just the way our brains are hardwired (think of how effective jingles are). Your preschooler doesn't necessarily know the concept of the words she's singing, though  -- as evidenced by kids who think L-M-N-O is one letter, says Lori Custodero, assistant professor of music and music education at Columbia University. Still, you can make music a powerful teaching tool:

Act out song lyrics. This'll help her not only remember words but also connect their sounds with their meanings.

Expand her world. For instance, when you sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," spark her imagination by asking her where she's going and how big her boat is.

Make up songs to help her memorize info. A tune may be all she needs to remember her phone number.

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