As children return, many schools are implementing a ‘recovery curriculum’ to help pupils deal with the mental health effects of the pandemic. Although all children have had different experiences during the pandemic, the common theme is a loss of routine and structure, limited freedom, and lack of contact with friends and wider family. For some children this has made them unsettled and unused to the school environment, whilst for others has caused deeper problems of anxiety and depression.
Schools have been using the recovery curriculum to help pupils process and move on from their experiences this year, to ensure that they are happy, feel safe, and are ready to learn. Professor Barry Carpenter CBE of Oxford Brookes University developed a recovery curriculum with 5 ‘levers’: Relationships, Community, Transparent Curriculum, Metacognition, and Space. The great news for schools, is that music is already proven to have a significant positive impact on three of these areas.
Music has the power to bring people together, and in fact for teenagers in particular it’s often the main basis of new friendships until the connection between them deepens. Listening to music, and taking part in (Covid-safe!) musical activities helps pupils rediscover their social skills and reminds them how to connect with their peers.
Music lessons offer opportunities to develop collaborative skills, fostering understanding and communication between pupils. A large amount of the music curriculum in both primary and secondary schools requires group work, which allows pupils to develop their team working skills in a supervised, supportive environment.
The recovery curriculum stresses the importance of engaging with what has happened in the community over the course of the pandemic. Music is a subject where pupils’ ‘outside’ lives have always had an impact on curriculum content, whether that be learning to play favourite songs from the charts, or using their instrumental skills learnt outside school to contribute to lessons.
Music helps develop pupils’ aesthetic skills, helping them to learn how to critically evaluate information, which in turn will help them process and understand their experiences better. It also has an impact on spiritual development, helping pupils to gain understanding of the world, and develop their own moral philosophy, leading to the resilience and understanding which will help rebuild their communities.
There is a strong link between music and emotional development, with music helping pupils to recognise and control emotions, and thereby form secure relationships. Exploring their feelings through creative activities such as songwriting and composition may help pupils to process what has happened in their communities during the pandemic.
Music has been proven to support brain development, academic achievement, and thinking and reasoning skills. Engaging in musical activities can help support pupils to reengage with learning, and rebuild their confidence as learners.
Music is particularly good for developing the creative thinking skills of imagination, exploration, decision-making and expression. All these skills are vital for success in further study and the workplace, which is particularly important for students reaching the end of their school careers with a significant gap in their education.
Whilst schools, parents and pupils are understandably concerned about lost learning in the ‘core’ subjects, it’s important to remember the contribution of ‘non-core’ subjects to cognitive development and general wellbeing. The things that our children have ‘lost’ due to the pandemic are wider and more significant than counting or spelling ability, and music is a great tool to help our children recover holistically.
For information and support on how our music programmes can help your recovery curriculum, book a consultation with us today.