Parents get upset when kids want to listen to music while they’re doing homework. “Pull those ear buds out right now and pay attention!”
This or something like it can be heard across kitchen tables across the world.
But I say, let them listen.
Just be cautious of the type of music kids listen to, as it’s a direct path to the brain. What about heavy metal or rock music? Well, beyond the fact that it might be causing hearing damage, this type of music can actually help the student focus. Kids naturally will find something to help them feel better. The real bonus? It keeps the right side of the brain busy so that focusing is easier. I prefer instrumental, calming music, but if the student isn’t “feeling” the music, it really doesn’t help much. It becomes an irritant.
Teachers, too, struggle with this concept. They’re trained to believe that a student should be sitting quietly at a desk in order to do independent work and stay on task.
How wrong these beliefs are, especially for kids with learning disabilities. Even teachers who believe and understand the power of music might shy away from it if administrators aren’t on board. I can see why. It wouldn’t look good to have a bunch of kids appearing like they aren’t paying attention to the task at hand.
Here’s the thing to remember. We, as adults, as educators, can’t crawl into a child’s brain and know what’s going on in there. A child sitting ramrod straight with arms folded might be day dreaming or even counting the seconds until class is over. You really can’t tell by appearances if the students are really focusing or not.
I’ll never forget Stephen, a student I had years ago. He was 90% deaf in both ears and didn’t know how to read. As a high school student, he was failing miserably. One of the reasons? Of course, I’m ruling out the fact that he couldn’t read, but the real reason he was failing was that he would get irritated with teachers droning on with lectures, and he’d reach up very slyly and turn off his hearing aids.
Awwww. Silence is bliss. But it doesn’t mean that anybody is really focusing.