Rhythm Time’s music classes were created by founder Kathy Doolan in 1995 to enhance the development of babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

In recent years, these music courses have also been used successfully to benefit children with special educational needs.

Lynne O’Malley, Rhythm Time franchisee in North Yorkshire, has been running her classes for 10 years. In addition to this, she has been running a Rhythm Time group for children with special educational needs for over 4 years. The group is attended by children aged 3-12 years, with varying needs and abilities such as autism, visual impairment, cerebral palsy and Downs Syndrome.

“I find using material from all of the music courses beneficial to teaching the children, so I tend to use a mix of baby, toddler and preschool courses,” says Lynne. “I use the baby activities frequently, as the children love and respond well to the sensory activities such as bubbles, lights, sensory blanket and scarves,” she adds.

Lynne also uses the preschool material for encouraging listening, especially concentrating on loud and soft activities. Some activities will include a circle dance which is a wonderful way to bring the group together, and the more physically challenged children will still participate in this activity, with help from their carers. Lynne slows the pace down to enable everyone to be involved.

Mario, Dewni and Rebecca all have Downs Syndrome. They have attended the group for 4 years. Mario in particular has benefited greatly from the repetition. Every week, the class sings a scale song, and the children hide or balance bells. “Mario loves it when we all go shhhhh,” says Lynne. “His speech has improved dramatically, and he loves the anticipation-based activities.”

Emma is totally blind with limited mobility. She particularly enjoys playing the instruments, although her favourite activity is walking through the “seaweed” whilst listening to ‘Aquarium’ by Saint Saens. “Emma is a talented musician, and we often play ‘Aquarium’ together on the piano, outside of Rhythm Time,” adds Lynne.

What seems evident is that the children love the security they get from the structure and repetition of the classes. They know what to expect each week and when Lynne varies the lessons, she introduces new things gradually.

“Rhythm Time has helped Emma with her literacy and numeracy, and her speech and language has developed as a direct result of Rhythm Time. She has gained so much confidence and her mobility has also improved,” quotes Emma’s carer

Emma’s mum, Rachael, also adds, “Music with Lynne continues to have an unquantifiable impact on Emma’s self esteem and wellbeing, enabling her to reach and sometimes surpass her musical potential.”

Another attendee, James’s mum, also adds that the Rhythm Time classes have enabled her son James to learn to share with other children, and that his listening skills have improved greatly.

Another carer added “I love this group! I love the fact it is all-inclusive, for all abilities, needs and ages.”

Lynne and her colleagues at Rhythm Time are passionate about the benefits of music and how the multi-sensory classes are all inclusive and can genuinely benefit all children.

For further details, visit www.rhythmtime.net/pr or call 0121 711 4224.

Click here to find out more about Rhythm Time.