Music is a language that just about everyone speaks. It’s valuable for a whole range of reasons beyond simple entertainment. One of the more overlooked qualities of music is its ability to get through to kids who might otherwise feel isolated and unmotivated. As such, there’s a great deal to be said for introducing music to children with special educational needs.
How can music help kids with learning disabilities?
In many cases, learning difficulties stem from auditory problems. Even if children can hear what’s being said, they might have trouble analysing and processing the information. So much information in the modern world is presented via speech and other auditory cues. What’s more, the information that isn’t, like written words, tends to be derived from sound processing – and thus, it relies on much of the same mental circuitry as speech.
The upshot of all of this is that children who have difficulty processing what they’re hearing will often struggle in broader ways. Anything that can be done to reinforce messages through music will help to develop a broader cross-section of the brain, including the parts that govern speech, hearing, motor function, and sight, too.
Children who learn a musical instrument – or, better yet, sample a wide variety of them – are regularly exposed to deliberate practice and the benefits associated with them. That needn’t mean a system of early specialisation and rigorous coaching; it just means bringing music into the learning environment.
Music can help to motivate, to build confidence, and to provide something for your child to focus on. Even if they don’t go on to become a professional, they’ll experience benefits that will ripple throughout their lives.
How can parents or tutors help?
If you’re a parent of a child with a learning disability, then you might find it difficult to know how to help. The same goes if you’re a teacher who lacks specialised training. Fortunately, there are a few strategies that are almost always effective.
Educational establishments and households might invest a little in musical instruments. Getting specialised musical instrument insurance might help to protect the investment, too.
You’ll want to be able to remind your child of the things that they do well, so that they aren’t focussed constantly on the things that they don’t do well. If your child is putting in the effort, then be sure to praise effort – the attainment can wait.
Providing a supportive environment can be hugely beneficial. Remind your child that they’re not defined by the way that their brain works, and try to involve them in social activities that don’t have an educational component. Building confidence is almost always a good thing.
While it’s easy to conclude that the problems faced by your child are unique, the truth is that many parents and children are in the same boat. Building a support network, and making good use of the resources that are available, will make the journey significantly easier.