Children with SEN can take great comfort and enjoyment from music. Music can be a gentle way to unlock some children, using improvisation, performance, dance, and singing in one-to-one and group sessions to help them express themselves and it has been shown to accelerate language learning.
Carefully chosen songs can be a fantastic way of helping children to make sense of the world around them - and even to be understood. Songs about daily routines – what they do and when – can reinforce visual timetables; clapping to a drum beat can increase phonological awareness.
Musical inclusion is a way of working that gives every child and young person an equal opportunity to participate in music and to learn and progress through music to the best of their individual capabilities. It acts to counteract the effects of exclusion, which may be based on cultural background, level of ability or other factors and to help children overcome barriers to their learning, whether these be physical, cognitive, environmental, emotional, behavioural or psychological.
Our Inclusive practice is based on the idea of ‘universal design’, i.e. whatever you design should be useful to everyone. In this case, our music sessions/ lessons are accessible, engaging and enjoyable for all children. The work can be differentiated for the needs of individual children.
Our inclusive music programme will:
• Help participants develop musically, personally and socially
• Offer every participant a music education that is designed to meet their needs, interests and abilities
• Value all styles and forms of making and learning music equally
• Foster a way of working where young people’s voices are heard, respected and acted on while also acknowledging the teacher’s expertise and overview in relation to areas such as progression and attainment.
• Value the input of SENCOs, TAs, and class teachers
Inclusion in the classroom
Here are some ways in which we may support SEN children during our whole class Music lessons
1. Develop routines:
Children with anxiety and also those on the autistic spectrum may well benefit from knowing that the session follows a similar format every week so they are not surprised and potentially overwhelmed by new and strange things. This could mean having warmups at the same time every week or having an opening and closing song etc. Also it may help calm nervousness if you briefly tell the children at the start roughly what you will do in the session, or the unit as a whole.
2. Have a positive time out space
Some children will not be able to be part of group music activities for the full session. Give them a way they can signal they need to leave the group and something positive they can do when not in the main activity. Also make it easy for them to come back in.
3. Adapt the pace
All teachers will adapt the pace of the work to fit with the level of the group’s general understanding and ability. Some children, including many children with ADHD, may have slower brain processing speed than others. This in no way means they are less intelligent, simply that they can take much longer to really ‘get’ things. If instructions go too fast for them they can get further and further behind very quickly. Teachers may arrange a visual cue for children to indicate if the information is going too fast for them.
4. Tailor the task to the person
Teachers will amend and adapt activities to strengthen the engagement of young people who may be facing difficulties.
5. Operate a buddy system
Teachers will find confident and capable children in the group and pair them up with any that might seem to be struggling so they can support each other.
6. Consider IPads and other tech – especially for some children
Some children, for example those with dyspraxia, may find it very difficult to learn to play instruments in a conventional way. IPad apps such as Thumbjam can be a great tool to get them fully involved very quickly.
7. Find specific roles for participants
Finding specific roles for children in challenging circumstances can help sustain their engagement. This could be as simple as leading the count-in or pressing the record button.