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Music is good for the soul – and young children with complex needs

By 23rd May 2019June 5th, 2019No Comments

From the moment a baby is born, parents instinctively use music to calm and soothe, express love and joy, and interact with their child.

Music is part of our culture, and it’s a natural instinct to use it to engage with young children. In fact, the earlier a child is exposed to music, the better.

Attaching a pair of headphones to your baby bump for nine months seems a bit extreme, but a child can benefit hugely from music once out of the womb – especially if they have complex needs.

New research, discussed on Nursery World, has revealed that music sessions for under-fives can boost development in children with complex needs.

A three-year study by music charity Soundabout involved delivering music-making sessions over 10 weeks for young children in deprived areas. The sessions were offered at children’s centres and other hubs specialising in provision for children with complex needs. Of the 216 children who attended the sessions, 16% had complex needs such as profound and multiple learning difficulties.

The musical development of the children was assessed based on age-related expectations. Before the course, children in the study were found to be six months behind their age-related expectations when it came to listening and responding to music.

However, after completing the music sessions this developmental delay was reduced or eliminated. Children taking part in the study were able to better manage their feelings and behaviour, had greater self-confidence, and were able to listen and pay attention for longer periods of time.

Children with complex needs enjoyed the greatest improvement, on average moving from the music developmental level of a six-month old to that of an 18-month old.

Music is closely linked with the development of a child’s brain – language, concentration and learning all improve through music and singing. Here are just some of the things musical contact positively affects:

  1. Thinking: Music is good for the brain – it improves memory and boosts brain development.
  2. Language: Music improves verbal ability, from learning the alphabet through to new words and speech patterns.
  3. Emotions: Music soothes, comforts and helps create the desired mood.
  4. Motor skills: Using fingers to play an instrument develops fine-motor skills, while dancing helps improve gross-motor skills such as coordination and rhythm.
  5. Social development: Making music as a group, taking turns and responding to songs all help boost a child’s social skills.

Here at Little Willows, we have a number of children who access music therapy as a support for additional needs. Our music therapist comes in for 1:1 sessions with these children, both weekly and fortnightly. The children all love their time in these sessions and it makes a positive contribution to their learning, development and emotional well-being.

Little Willows Day Nursery offers quality childcare, helping children learn through curiosity, creativity, music and stimulating play. If you’d like to find out how Little Willows can help your child’s development, get in touch with the team today.