Can music help children with learning disabilities succeed in school? Very often, the answer is YES, depending on the child’s personality, individual learning style, and strengths. During the course of my 25 year career as a Kindergarten teacher, I have taught and mainstreamed many children with various learning disabilities, and I can honestly say that the use of music combined with movement has certainly impacted and helped each of these beautiful children! In fact, looking back on my experiences with them, I wouldn’t change a thing!
People often ask me if HeidiSongs is research based. The answer is YES- we do have one teacher that did her Master’s Thesis on the effectiveness of HeidiSongs, and it came out very well! There is also a plethora of research that supports using music and movement as a teaching method in general! You can see some of it here. However, we only have anecdotal accounts from parents and teachers that have used HeidiSongs with special needs students.
Today I am going to share with you a few short letters that I have received from different teachers and parents, mostly via email, about students that were struggling terribly with various learning disabilities and challenges, but then were helped by using HeidiSongs’ music with movement. I have left the description of their learning disabilities exactly as their teacher or parent wrote them, and highlighted them in bold print so that you could find the ones that pertain to your needs more quickly. These challenges include non-verbal autism, Down Syndrome, severely disabled special needs, children placed in all day or partial day special education classes (with no reason cited in the email,) mild intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, intellectually delayed (formally MR), autism, language delays, and some other unique disabilities.
Please know that I have changed (or removed) many of the names due to privacy issues. The only editing I have done is to shorten some of the comments due to length, as well as inserted HTML links to our website if the writer mentioned a specific product. Other than those modifications, they are true to what I have received. I know that there are many more of them, but unfortunately I couldn’t find some of the messages that I know should be there! I don’t mind telling you that I sometimes go back into this email folder and re-read these wonderful, encouraging messages from people when I’m feeling sad or discouraged, because they give me a lift! They help me remember why I am here.
I hope that all of this will help some of you that are looking for some data to go along with our products! Also, if you have another success story to contribute, I would LOVE to hear it! Please let us know, either in the comments section, or by emailing us at [email protected]
Success Stories About Children with Learning Disabilities Using Music and Movement
Testimonials from Teachers and Parents
One of kindergarten teachers is using your songs and my grandson is singing them all the time. I tried one with a Down’s Syndrome child in my class and he loves them! He wants a new one everyday now and can hardly wait to walk to Kindergarten to borrow the DVD, so I decided we needed to order a set since he will be in my class next year. Thank you so much! Cindy
(Response from Heidi:) That’s a neat thing to do for him. Do you have any idea if he is really learning any of the words? How old is he? I have heard from a few other teachers of severely handicapped children that are using them, and they say that those kids are really learning to read and spell the words. Thanks so much! Heidi
He is 7 years old and I do think he is really learning the words–at first he would see one of the sight words and begin singing the song –then he would just do the beginning hand motions AND now he is actually reading level six books!! I am really proud of him and very thankful for your songs because they were the first thing that we were able to successfully use to capture his attention!
My son is in LOVE with you!!! He plays your videos all the time on Vimeo and knows all the words and actions without even looking. Your videos have the ability to reach into his world and pull out that amazing, smart, gifted boy that we know he can be He may be non-verbal but when it comes to “Heidi,” he immediately drops everything to sing and dance. I wish you had a “concert” we could come to – he would be in heaven! Thank you!! – mom to Bryce, age 9 (Down Syndrome/ASD).
I’m a 1st grade teacher at an academy in Utah. This school is for students with high functioning autism. We just opened a new campus and so all of these student have never had a chance to have a classroom that was set up for them. My class of students are the lowest academically, and when I started with this group in October, the combined total knowledge of letters and sounds was just five! But by using only 20 minutes of video time and worksheets for centers, by winter break I had all but two students with complete mastery!
I spent 2 days after the break reviewing and they all still had mastered them. The 2 students that are still working on them only have about 10 more sounds and they will have mastery. (They also need to become more active in doing the songs and actions LOL) We started doing cvc words the middle of January and all of them can blend sounds on a very basic level. Even my 2 nonverbal students can act out the actions to show me they understand the concepts . One of them shows me the actions when I assess him for understanding. (We also do the actions to an ABC chart.) Many of my parents did not think that their students would be learning as fast as they are! Most of them are now reading at a Level B or higher (pre-primer.) Now we just need to up the comprehension levels!
I just wanted you to know how much each of my students love working with the items you created.
As a mom of four children with Down Syndrome, and a teacher for over 12 years, I have to say that HeidiSongs has been wonderful for our children!! They love learning through music, and learning the easy to follow along motions! We highly recommend Heidi Songs to anyone who spends any time with children, and children with special needs really benefit from the videos which stimulates them through auditory, visually,and kinesthetic learning!– Rebecca, mother of four children with Down Syndrome
Thank you so much. I love your c.d.’s. I teach a special needs class of Kindergarten to second grade students. I used the number c.d.’s last year and some of them finally learned their numbers for the first time! Jean
I teach fairly severely disabled special needs students. I was desperate for things to work with my students as I prepared them for kindergarten. Her number songs were just the answer! By October my guys recognized numbers to 10. These were little guys that have been in special ed preschool for a year or sometimes 2 and they had not picked up the numbers. When I paired these with the Zoo Phonics letters I had two very powerful teaching tools.
I left kindergarten before I found the word songs, but I can only imagine how well they would work if you introduced a word or two each week. The music and movements would anchor that information firmly in the brain for regular and special needs children. With the current trends being so focused on skills at the kindergarten level ways to make the skills fun and engaging are the ONLY way that we can help children succeed.
Keep up the great work Heidi! From Sandy, a Special Ed Preschool Teacher
Your stuff is so great with my Mild Intellectual Disability Class! They are learning the letters and sounds and how to write! Thank you. What a miracle for some of my kids. Jennifer
Dear Heidi, I just had to share our recent assessment results and thank you so much for helping us achieve these results. First, let me describe my class. I teach students in grades K-4 with learning disabilities. My students range from IQ’s below 70 to students with IQ’s in the low 90’s. I have students with cerebral palsy, intellectually delayed (formally MR), Autism, Language Delay, and a couple of other unique disabilities. It has been a struggle over the last couple of years to help my students learn sight words and apply these information on a regular basis. This year I received a gift from another teacher in three of your CD’s on Sing and Spell Sight Words and the Jumpin’ Numbers DVD. Each week, I have been making power points to the songs (I cannot afford the DVD’s yet).
At the beginning of the school year most of my students were able to identify less than 15 words, I had 5 who were unable to identify any. Out of 14 students what we have assessed: my 4 top readers came to me with Running Record levels of 4 – 8 below. All of those students moved up a minimum of 2 RR levels. My next lower group moved from RR levels of 0, they are all on 4’s. I recently purchased a couple of the word family pages and they have already become fluent in 4 word families. The success in reading is attributed to their ability to read more fluently and therefore able to comprehend better. To see the smiles on their faces is so exciting. All of my 3rd – 4th grade students are in inclusion for at least 1 hour a day for academics. Their general education teachers have also celebrated their success.
I had one 3rd grade who has been unable to consistently recognize her numbers 1-10. She is now adding fluently. All 14 students can count to 100 without the music! The very low learners have now learned to recognize 2 shapes consistently. I have put the number DVD on my laptop. It is a center and they listen then write.
As soon as we are able, I will be purchasing another sight word DVD. But more than anything, I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your willingness to make all of these activities available to others and make them affordable. You are truly a gifted teacher and your students are blessed to have one who cares so much.
Again, thank you for your contribution to helping others improve their teaching…
(A note from Heidi: Here is a follow up letter from the same teacher at the end of the year)
At the beginning of the school year my students’ ability to read sight words ranging from 0- 31, now they range from 5 – 60. Due to their increase in reading fluency, their comprehension increased up to 40%. To see the smiles on their faces is so exciting.
After viewing the numbers video, I have a student who was once not able to consistently recognize her numbers 1-10. She is now adding fluently.
We have something called Success groups, which are 3 week periods of time that the whole grade level picks something to work on. We give a pretest, split the kids into ability level grouping, teach them on that thing for 3 weeks and then give post test. I work with my 1st graders who are Special Education, and they are very low.
Our first 3 weeks were nonsense word fluency, so I was working hard on letter sounds. We did your letter songs every day that I had them during that 3 week period. (Which I should say, all my kiddos grew quite a bit!!! So Thank you!!!)
Our current 3 week period (we are in week 2 of it) happens to be sight words, so we are singing and dancing A TON of sight word songs with you every day.
They also love the 1-100 song (and so do I so we have been known to do it during Reading also, because I only have them in pull-out for Math 1 day a week.)
So… that brings me to today… one of my children walks up to the screen today and pretends to hug you and says “Thank you. I love you”. It was SO sweet!!! They started asking a ton of questions about you and wanting to meet you and everything. I told them that if they kept singing really well today that I would send you a message from them. They did amazing and sang better than ever today. I got my phone out and sent you the message that they wanted me to send. Those were all their words in quotes. I just typed what they were saying to me. (I may have left out the “We like your shoes and your car”… they went a little overboard on their loving you… but it was so stinkin’ cute!!!)
My kiddos are not huggy, emotional kiddos, so seeing them like that today touched my heart! Every single one of them gave you a pretend hug today….many of them gave so many pretend hugs that I had to make them stop! LOL! Thank you so so much for sending me these videos. They are helping transform my students.
Teaching Through Turbulence
I wanted to let you know that my 9 year old non verbal autistic son started talking after watching your videos at school. Thank you! I am spreading the word about your videos to everyone I know.
He started making different noises and I couldn’t figure out what he was trying to say. We went to his school for grandparents day and his teacher put on one of your DVD’s and it all kind of fell into place. He was saying things he had learned on your DVD. He wasn’t reciting the Gettysburg Address but this was a HUGE deal for us. Now, he wants to talk and is now singing with Dora, Little Einsteins etc… He was just singing with you in the beginning.
Heidi: Oh, that’s just wonderful!!! I can’t imagine the joy you must feel! What a breakthrough!
It was and I have been meaning to reach out to you for quite a while to let you know the impact you had on him! Thank you!
Heidi: I’m so happy for you all, and thank you for spreading the word about our materials! I love to hear stories like this. Thanks so much for sharing it with me, and please keep me updated on his progress! Autism is such a puzzling thing, and so hard on families. Hugs to you all!
“I have a little guy in my class that is light years behind the rest. He came for the first week of school (but I wasn’t there due to a funeral out of state), then he disappeared for 6 weeks, then he returned and has been in my room ever since. He is struggling soooooo much. We pull him for one on one tutoring every day and it hasn’t helped much so far. I always start singing Heidi’s sight word songs “is” and “the” first because these are 2 words we always see in our morning message. After 2 weeks of singing “is” daily he now knows 2 letters- i and s! It was so exciting to see his face light up when I showed him those two letters. We’ve been singing all sorts of letter ID and sound songs all year but nothing clicked with this little guy until just now. So while some kids are learning the sight word “is”, he is learning the letters i and s.”
Vanessa Levin, Pre-K Pages
Hi! I can’t tell you how happy my kids are with your music. Our K team went to the K conference MLK weekend and my teaching partner and I got to see you twice. We started using the spelling words on Tuesday when we got back and they are thrilled.
Even my most “hard core” boys who think they are so cool just love your DVD!! We used it for rainy day recess. I have one really grouchy little guy that really softens up when we move to your CD. His favorite song is the ‘to’ song.
It has really helped a little guy in my class who is mainstreamed (has down syndrome). He responds so well to music.
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