Our mini blog last week considered music for supporting wellbeing, given the priority that wellbeing must be given at this current post lock-down time. This week we consider how music can also support children to ‘catch up’ with literacy skills post lockdown.
Some pre-school children will have been well supported with home learning during lock-down but others will have missed out. For children starting school in September this can be a set back that might be difficult for them to overcome at such a vital stage and will widen the school ready attainment gap that already exists for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The school ready literacy attainment gap
Research shows many children in poverty are less school ready than their peers, creating an ‘attainment gap’. The biggest gap is in literacy skills. ICAN communication charity research found that 1 in 4 children start school without the communication. language and literacy skills they need at this stage. Without these crucial foundations, they never catch up.
How can music help?
There is a wealth of evidence from neuroscience research revealing the power of early years music in strengthening children’s cognitive development generally, and specifically for developing strong foundations for literacy.
A ‘whole-brain’ workout
Studies show us that early years music-making activities draw on various areas of the brain simultaneously, facilitating many different aspects of development and providing one of the most effective influences on brain development at this key stage. Music is a multisensory experience that involves three ways of learning: auditory, visual and kinaesthetic. Similarly, the brain is a multisensory organ, and this could partially explain the remarkable benefits: music activates all three cortices (motor, visual and auditory) of the brain.
You can find links to further reading about neuroscience and research studies that provide evidence of the boost that regular music practise can give children in early years including the potential for reversing the cognitive issues relating to disadvantage.
Early years music training and resources for practitioners to boost school ready literacy
With this evidence, it is surely time to include early years music intervention programmes as part of any strategy that aims to narrow the school ready literacy gap, helping children to ‘catch up’. And now is a great time to act with the effect of lockdown nursery school closures likely to widen the attainment gap this year.
The great news is that you don’t need to be a musician to lead effective music-making activities that boost auditory processing skills in early years; you just need the training and resources – and the confidence will come with practice.
You can try out a song that plays with words and helps children hear the syllable chunks that make up the words., the rhythm of the word. Sign up to download Boogie Mites Let’s Tap a Word song.
Boogie Mites School Ready Literacy Music Programme supports the 7 Aspects of Letters and Sounds Phase 1, developing strong foundations for phonics through fine tuning auditory processing skills. You can find out more about the programme here: https://boogiemites.co.uk/shop/school-ready-practitioner-pack-physical/.
Achievement For All – Core Strengths
Boogie Mites support Achievement For All (AFA) and their mission to make social mobility a real possibility. AFA Core Strengths Programme provides a framework and resources for practitioners and parents to support disadvantaged children develop the confidence, ability and desire to learn throughout school. This programme will particularly helpful post lockdown for children who have had months without rich and varied learning opportunities. https://afaeducation.org/news/core-strength/
AFA see parent involvement as key to closing the school ready attainment gap. Our mini blog next week will be about involving parents in regular active music making with their children.