Can Music be used in the Senior Years of the Primary School as a Positive Learning Experience to Support Children with identified Educational and Behavioural needs?
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The aim of this paper is to investigate if music can be used in the senior years of the primary school as a positive learning experience to support children with identified educational and behavioural needs. The reason for carrying out this research is based on daily observations and interactions with targeted children who have difficulties and require on-going help in order to reach their full potential. A case study approach was used as a general methodology with emphasis placed on three children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in the senior years of the primary school. Data was analysed using a qualitative, multi method, thematic approach. Interviews were carried out with the three children, the school Principal and the Special Educational Needs Team. These concluded that the children’s levels of concentration improved when they were actively engaged in their learning which resulted in a positive development in their behaviour. It was also proved that the children were capable of taking responsibility for their own learning and were able to work collaboratively and this resulted in an increase in their levels of self-esteem and confidence. The feedback from the parents indicated that through positive reinforcement, praise and encouragement from the teacher, a trusting relationship was established which lead to an improvement in their attendance. Observations also showed that the teacher’s knowledge of the curriculum, skills in implementing a variety of teaching strategies, attitudes towards behaviour and dealing with difficult situations and levels of self-efficacy all had a definitive role in the successful teaching and learning. Detailed planning and preparation incorporating differentiation and assessment tools was imperative so that a structured learning environment could be created to meet the individual needs of the children. Conclusions from the research confirm that there is a gap in the literature in relation to summative assessment methods of music in the primary school, and it is recommended that the use of ICT to enhance teaching and learning in music could be further developed. It is also clear from the study that more research needs to be done in the area of how to integrate music with other curricular subjects so that more time can be allocated to the subject.
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