I write this based on my experiences as a piano teacher years ago, and success working with piano students and families that were over-scheduled.
This is a child who never has a week-day at home after school. Who doesn’t get enough age appropriate unstructured play time that is necessary for growth and development. And who therefore doesn’t learn.
A child who has lots of hobby classes and spends time on hobbies when there’s class homework, with no time to spend exploring any one hobby for enjoyment.
This is a child who does not read at home – but goes for a reading class. Who cannot just put music on and dance madly, like we did, but has to go for dance class. Who cannot just stay home and draw for the pleasure of it, but goes to art class.
This child, cannot just explore one hobby class at a time, until one of them fits…..he/she has to do them all – from age 5 onwards.
This child may grow to be an eight year old, who has difficulty answering a question, if it differs from what he is thinking about. A teenager who often does not listen to what is being asked. And adult who has a lot to unlearn before she can learn to reason and think.
This Indian child might even be studying in a school system that encourages rote learning. And where teachers have too many students and sometimes, insufficient education in teaching, to focus on teaching children to think and reason.
I can see what’s happening, because I’m often planning lessons to help children learn how to think and learn. I talk to parents, and find that they’re quite comfortable with their child’s hectic schedule, until things start to go wrong.
Until both the piano teacher and the child’s school teacher have the same problem. Because this child, who has absolutely no learning disabilities, is still having difficulty learning!
Talking – about choosing one hobby (even if it means stopping piano class) and just one sport or movement activity to focus on, often falls on deaf ears. I’ve seen this, and I know it goes.
So I’m doing what I can to change how I teach, and writing progress reports in the homework book. Talking to busy parents when they can make time for it in their schedules. And writing the occasional email.
And finally, when I reach a point where all efforts have failed, and it’s reached a point where I can’t actually go on teaching, I’m asking piano students to take a break and return when they can free up their schedule.
And evidently, this is what was needed…..a wake up call!!