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Music and Study Habits

For parents of children with ADHD, dyslexia or other processing disorders, homework time is often a struggle. Research shows that using music for better study habits is often highly effective. Homework most often consists of reading and writing — two activities involving the visual sense. When an auditory sound is introduced — a dog barking, the phone ringing — it often distracts from the activity because it is in dissonance. Introducing complementary auditory sounds through music engages the brain by reducing distractions and increasing learning.

Here are some types of music to incorporate during study time.

Classical Baroque Style for Memorization

Baroque-style music hails from the Classical era. Most adults are familiar with Vivaldi’s "The Four Seasons" or Handel’s "Messiah." The reason that they are so memorable is that the tones and beats are predictable. This allows the brain to enter the alpha state, which is ideal for retaining massive amounts of information. When music comes in waves as expected, there is less need for students to focus on external stimuli. An empty void of silence is susceptible to any number of auditory distractions, whereas one filled with regularly occurring, calm beats and tones needs less attention diverted away from memorizing or learning vocabulary words.

Dance Beats for Stress Buildup

All children need regular breaks when concentrating on grueling tasks like math or science, those with special needs more so. Take frequent dance breaks with peppy, rhythmic music. This helps kids to “get it out of their system,” leading to longer periods between residual buildups of stress. Naturally, longer periods of concentration follow. The addition of a physical activity helps increase “feel good” hormone production, lowering the stress that often accompanies the pressure to stay focused on homework.

Funky Jazz or New Age for Creativity

Science and creative endeavors are areas that can really trip up some children who have trouble paying attention. These kids are creative, for sure, but that creativity is not easily directed. Here is another example of when music and studying are perfect complements. Music that is easy on the ear but unpredictable, with timbres that take surprising direction or tone, can help the brain to lose focus and wander. Internal processing is stimulated so that new neurons begin firing, creating new concepts. Exactly what is needed for out-of-the-box science experiments or creative writing.

For children who may have sensory sensitivity, play with the volume and proximity of music in relation to their location. There may be a need to start with fast, energetic music and transition to slower songs as their attention focuses. Try different songs for studying to see how your child responds.


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