The Effect of Music as a Teaching Tool on Emergent Literacy Skills in Kindergarten-Eligible Children in a Head Start Program

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Odenkirk, Kathy
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
Learning to read is critical to a child’s future academic success. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of utilizing music as a teaching tool for emergent literacy skills in kindergarten-eligible children. The emergent literacy skill area tested was sequencing/story comprehension. This study compared the difference in the skill acquisition between the control group (no music) and the experimental group (music added). Narrative observations were taken throughout the treatment period detailing each child’s level of participation and reading comprehension. The participants for this study attend a Head Start preschool program in Ohio. Twenty kindergarten-eligible children, from three centers, were invited to participate. Out of the 20 children, parents of 17 children returned signed consent forms. The selection of the children was not a random sample due to the kindergarten eligibility criteria and other excluding factors. The 17 children who began the study were, however, randomly assigned to either the control or experimental groups. Center 2 unexpectedly closed due to building problems and 1 participant at Center 1 was consistently absent. Due to these factors, the total number of participants in the study was 11. The findings indicated that utilizing music to help teach sequencing/story comprehension skills to this group of kindergarten-eligible children was an effective method. Comparing control and experimental group scores both by individual center and together as a group clearly demonstrated the advantage of adding music as a teaching tool for sequencing/story comprehension skills. Due to the small sample size results cannot be generalized to the entire population of kindergarten-eligible children. Recommendations for future studies include repeating the study utilizing a larger sample, increasing the amount of time to conduct the study, and presenting a staff inservice meeting prior the beginning of the study to educate staff about the upcoming study.