When parent support turns into spoon-feeding
Young beginner level piano students need their parents to be involved,
- So they practise daily
- Read their homework book, understand, and following instructions.
- Develop independence as they grow older and learn to practise on their own.
Unfortunately, parents often use this time to show their child what is correct, instead of reminding them or helping them – to read, understand their homework & do their own thinking.
I think it’s because the parent focuses on the short term goal of playing a particular piece well, not thinking about the more important goal – the young student learning how to learn a piece on his/her own.
The changing face of family time?
Children here in Navi Mumbai often learn by memorising pre-written answers in schools, but it’s always been that way in India. Yet, the earlier generation – the parents – did not have the same difficulties thinking reasoning that a lot of the current generation of children have.
- I look around here and see that a surprising number of families don’t have routines that involve reading to & with their kids from a very young age. Reading story books to develop & support a child’s language skills, curiosity & imagination.
- It’s common to see parents keeping babies busy by sitting them in front of the television. Older kids glued to games on cellphones & tablets, don’t go down to play. Or play less. So they miss out on physical activity that helps them develop their motor & spatial abilities, plus they miss out on interaction with other kids.
Is the fast pace of todays life eating into time parents spend talking & playing with their young children? Is it just the pace of life or a change in values or a lack of understanding that the most important thing that a child needs is time with his/her parents?
I honestly don’t know.
What I do know is that it’s very common for todays child who has no learning disabilities, to be slow at reasoning.
Piano class has to address these issues, because playing the piano requires a combination of different skills, all from the very first class. Hand coordination, reading, finding the correct note on the piano keyboard & playing to a steady beat – all simultaneously.
Talking about the value of struggle in piano class
I encourage piano parents of my young students to sit in on class and we talk about how I teach, so that my young students learn to teach themselves. We talk about why it’s important to be patient in piano class as well as during piano practise time, and let a child take time figuring things out.
Parents sitting in on piano class are able to see how asking leading questions, rather than providing answers helps their child work things out. In the long run, they see the confidence this gives their child.
They see the effort their child puts in & realise the importance of their role in fostering thinking during home practise. And they also realise that the patience it takes to guide a child this way comes only from understanding that independent thinking is necessary to gain knowledge.
Over time, their childs initial struggle to learn & understand becomes a challenge. A challenge that is exciting & that is fun.
The first few months with my young beginners go very very slow and then suddenly, they’re learning so quick that I have to struggle to fit things in. That lesson planning becomes a challenge. And that’s when I know it was worth it.
Here’s an interesting article ‘The upside of failure – the downside of success – and how to keep improving, no matter what’