Teaching parents the value of struggle – and how it’s helping

When parent support turns into spoon-feeding

Young beginner level piano students need their parents to be involved,

  1. So they practise daily
  2. Read their homework book, understand, and following instructions.
  3. 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’

 

“Children don’t need time”

“Just have a baby, put your child in a creche, and continue with what you were doing before you had a baby. That’s what I did…” That’s  what a friend said to me in an effort to pressure me into having a baby!

I just stared at her in total shock. I could see how neglected her child was, and was horrified at her advice.

As I write this, I’m a married woman in her 40’s who does not have a child. I have never been comfortable discussing ‘why’ I don’t have a child with anyone other than my family, doctors on a ‘need to know’ basis and a few trusted friends! So, mostly everyone does not really know the ‘why.’ I feel it’s a private matter and have, unlike a lot of other Indian women, always had the support of family in this.

Up until a few year ago, I’ve been accosted by people who want me to have a baby. I use the word ‘accosted,’ because they were generally very rude and angry and sometimes even offensive – ‘Who will look after you when you grow old” was their trump card, when all other attempts failed.

“You don’t believe in God that is why you are able to accept that you are never going to be a mother” from a neighbour who was upset that I wasn’t depressed about being childless!

I’ve had a family connection – a grown man with college going kids call me up and shout at me on the phone for not having a baby! … I’m putting this down to stress from his family problems!!

I’ve been to a funeral, standing battling emotion, paying my respects to the family of the deceased and been cross-questioned one of them about being childless! …. maybe some kind of mental instability could account for this ??

I will not mention the advice that I should try IVF (in-vitro fertilization) – something I personally disapprove of, because I feel the risk of birth defects or health problems for the child, with IVF and an older mother are much higher.

I personally think that if the God’s meant for me to be a mother, they’re powerful enough to make it happen. If they, in their wisdom, think otherwise, I will be grateful for all the other joys they have given me, and not ask for more.

I have had one caring friend tell me that her children are one of the greatest joys and also the greatest hardships of her life. And that despite the struggles she is grateful to have been blessed with her kids – that children need time, love and attention, and parents-to-be should know that and be prepared for the joy and commitment of being parents, before having children.

I think she had it right!