Last week, we were working with primary aged children in Lealholm, North Yorkshire, using music to build co-operation, confidence, social and communication skills in young people. Rebecca Denniff planned and led the sessions, finding ways to develop personal and social skills through music making. She invited young people to create rules for their music so they could work together effectively.

The school is a tiny school located in a tiny village and is part of a small academy chain of 5 schools in North Yorkshire. Many children are from isolated areas; younger children in particular have not experienced much education during lockdown, with online education proving difficult for those in rural areas and those living on working farms. There were a considerable number of children at the school with learning difficulties, social and behavioural difficulties, and / or speech and communication difficulties.

With children finding the re-adaptation to school rules quite difficult after such a long time away, Rebecca's activities were designed to be engaging and encouraged the children to take part in group activity that reinforced the idea of sitting quietly, listening and taking turns. Rebecca's work had an underlying aim - to improve the mental health of children that have been through the collective trauma of a global pandemic, providing support for young children who had missed out on at least a year of school stability, along with missing their teachers and spending time with their friends. The session was a success, and the children helped to choose what they will be exploring next week.

Working outdoors was also encouraged by both Rebecca and the teachers, who saw the value of reintroducing the children to the 'normality' of school life after such a long period of disruption.

If you'd like to read more about why music-making is so important to these - and many other - children in our region, please read our latest Music Makes Lives Better Because article or to read more about our work in Mental Health for children and young people, please visit our project page.