Tony was a kindergarten student of mine who carried the weight of a speech impediment with him, much to his chagrin. Other children laughed when they couldn’t understand what he said.
Tony loved to sing and play with puppets at choice time. To compensate for no puppet stage, I turned a table over that Tony could sing and act out his favorite songs and nursery rhymes behind. While there, Tony’s speech problem didn’t matter. He couldn’t see the other children laugh and they couldn’t see him strain to sing. Tony, in his own world, was happy. He shied away from speaking in front of others, but over time, in his “safe place”, Tony became confident with language skills.
One day, coming back from lunch, Tony tugged my sleeve. “Ms. Ellington,” he said excitedly, “I wrote a song!”
“Wow, that’s great Tony!” I said. “Would you like to share it with…” I paused, and then said “the class?”
He nodded “yes” and I said, “Great! We’ll do it as soon as we get back to class!”
In class, I told the children Tony wrote a song he wanted to share. The children glanced at each other. No one said a word. Tony stood up and sang a song about how much he loved the class, school, his friends, and me! He sang and sang… and sang and sang… and sang and sang … The others sat listening with mouths wide open. When Tony finished, a rousing throng of applause echoed throughout the room.
From that day on, Tony didn’t play behind a puppet stage. He was out in the open, communicating with friends!
From that day on, I realized the power of music to create enthusiasm for language learning and build self-esteem.