The importance of keeping a beat

Research links ability to keep a beat to reading and language skills.

The findings of a research study by Dr Nina Kraus at Northwestern University, Illinois has found biological evidence linking music, rhythmic abilities and language skills – specifically linking the ability to keep a beat to the neural encoding of speech sounds.

The study demonstrates that accurate beat-keeping involves synchronization between the parts of the brain responsible for hearing as well as movement.

“Rhythm is an integral part of both music and language, and the rhythm of spoken language is a crucial cue to understanding.  It may be that musical training—with its emphasis on rhythmic skills—can exercise the auditory-system, leading to less neural jitter and stronger sound-to-meaning associations that are so essential to learning to read.”

-Dr Nina Kraus, Northwestern University, reported by

So how can we teach young children to keep a regular beat?

Our warm-up song Hello Everyone is the perfect activity to introduce this skill, and the extension and development section of the resource describes how to approach it.  We recommend introducing a steady beat once the children are familiar with the song, and singing along with you:

Start by simply clapping or patting along to the song, and encourage the children to join in with you. When the group have accomplished this, advance the exercise by getting the children to hold their right hand into the circle palm downwards, then place their left hand on top of their right.

Keeping their hands in this position, get the children to move both hands together from one knee to the other in time to the music. They may struggle with this at first, but given time this exercise will help develop coordination and concentration skills.

Head over to our Free Activity Resources to view Hello Everyone in full and listen to the audio tracks.  You can downloaded the activity for FREE as a pdf session plan with accompanying audio files.  As with all our activities, Hello Everyone is directly linked to the EYFS Framework, demonstrating how it will support the learning of your pupils.

Share this article: