Thursday, October 24, 2013

Parenting Tip - Do Not, I repeat, Do Not Overschedule Your Children!

I was talking with another piano teacher who told me that one of her students is blind.  She mentioned that his caretaker brings him to lessons and sits in another room waiting for him.  Her student never progresses and she was feeling frustrated one day at his lesson.  Finally, she asked him when he practiced--when in the schedule of his day did he find time to practice the piano.  He replied in astonishment, "you mean I'm suppose to practice at home?"

The teacher asked him about his day's schedule to try to help him find a time to practice but he said he was always busy.  She went and talked to his caretaker about his piano practice and she answered the same as he did, "you mean he's suppose to practice at home?"  After talking with the caregiver she realized that he had no time at all to practice the piano at home.  He went from one activity to another after school until it was time for bed.

I have had piano students do the same thing and I feel like shouting to the parents, "What are you doing??????  What are you teaching your child?"

This is really a pet peeve of mine--overscheduling children.

I've tried to look at it from the parents' perspective and know they have their children's interests at heart.  They are probably trying to enrich their children's lives, expose them to different kinds of activities and help them develop their talents.  But instead, too often, they are teaching them wrong principles.

They are teaching them:
*  I can do it all.  I'm a super kid and I can be good in sports, be in gymnastics, learn a musical instrument, swim, etc.

*  I deserve to do it all because my friends are doing it all.

*  I can do it all without practicing.  I can show up to rehearsals, lessons and that's all that's required of me.  I don't understand the concept of daily practice to become more proficient.

*  The Law of the Harvest--what you grow, you reap--what's that?  I just show up, then leave and don't really get good at anything.

*  I'm here to be entertained.

 I understand that parents want their children to be well rounded, be able to compete with their friends at school, and to develop talents.  They want them to have the life they didn't get to have, the lessons they missed out on, the talents they wished they had.  But unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.

So what do parents do?  Can't your children take any lessons or experience any new classes?  Yes, of course, but there is a balance to life.  You can have your child take gymnastics or be in the after school choir or be in sports, but it doesn't have to be all at the same time.  One summer do gymnastics, one semester be in the youth choir, choose one season of sports.  Then if your child shows an increased interest in one area, choose it for continued lessons and daily practice to help your child develop a talent in that area.

Your children need time to be home with their family.  Time to do their homework without rushing through it at the last minute.  Time to sit down with the family and eat dinner.  Time to help out with family chores.  Time to play with younger siblings.  Time to read books.

Don't put your child through a rushed childhood.  Let him enjoy being a child.  Playing, imagining, swinging outside, writing with chalk on the sidewalk.  Riding his bike, skating.  Talking with you.  Laughing.  Snuggling.  Enjoying life. Loving you.

Give your child a happy childhood.

Here are just a few of my happy grandchildren.  I'm so glad their parents are balancing their activities and giving them a happy childhood.

Thanks for reading,



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Music Tip - Be a Cheerleader

One of my piano moms sent me a link to this piano post on a piano teacher's blog.  I thought it was such a good idea, I decided to talk about it too.

It seems that children who are in sports have a lot of parental and family support.  Their parents take them to practices, and many times the Dads are even the coaches, with the whole family coming out to the ball games or swimming/gymnastic meets.  It's a fun, busy time of year for the families, with grandparents also attending the weekly games.

But what about the poor, lonely piano student?  He/she gets dropped off at the teacher's house, gets nagged at every day to practice, and then has family support once a year at a piano recital.  No wonder so many children quit music lessons.

I've always pictured parents as being the cheerleaders for their children.  They encourage them, support them, tell them how great they are and attend all their activities.  But sometimes parents need to step up their cheerleading routines to keep their children interested and progressing in their music lessons.

Some parents have told me they dance while their child is practicing the piano.  One mother said she does her daughter's turn of dish washing in return for piano practicing.  One family said their 3 year old comes running into the piano room from wherever he's been in the house, just to sing along with one of the songs he really likes that his brother plays.  Another mother always stopped by Seven 11 and bought her daughter a muffin after her early morning cello lesson.  All these families are being cheerleaders.

It doesn't take much to be a cheerleader.  You just need to know how to:
  • smile
  • jump up and down
  • be enthusiastic
  • call out chants
  • clap
  • always be positive

Speaking of chants, how about:
who do we appreciate?
______________________ piano playing!
(your child's name)

Enjoy being a cheerleader this week!

Thanks for reading,



Friday, October 4, 2013

Parenting Tip - What Would Happen If....

One of my favorite things to do with grandchildren (or any children for that matter) is play the "which would you rather" game.

Which would you rather......go swimming or play at the park?
Which would you an ice cream cone or lick a sucker?

You can find out a lot about your children/grandchildren's tastes and interests by asking questions like these.

Recently I read another fun game here that fosters imagination.

What would happen if......everyone had 4 arms?
What would happen grew on trees?

Your child has to think and imagine the scenarios of these questions--which is a great cognitive skill.

Researchers are studying children and their imaginations and hoping that will help in understanding children with autism. In an article on children's "magical thinking", Dr. Harris states, "there is evidence that imagination and role play appears to have a key role in helping children take someone else's perspective. Kids with autism, on the other hand, don't engage in much pretend play, leading some to suggest that the lack of such activity contributes to their social deficits." 

Interesting! Can you help an autistic child learn to imagine things? Would that stimulate part of the injured brain and help repair it?

The Reader's Digest had an article that listed 5 benefits of encouraging your child's imagination.  I especially liked this one:

     Work out fears
     Playing pretend can help children work out their fears and worries. When children    role-play about the big, bad monster under the bed, they gain a sense of control over him and he doesn’t seem quite so big or so bad. Imaginative play also helps kids vent confusing feelings they might have, such as anger toward a parent or rivalry with a new sibling.

      To encourage your youngster’s imagination, read to him every day. Books offer  children the opportunity to visit other worlds and create new ones of their own.

I read a fun book this week to a music class of children/parents called, "Cows Can't Fly" by David Milgrim.  I had two of the older siblings play funny sounds on a keyboard after every stanza, which really added to the fun.  Then I encouraged the children to close their eyes and visualize cows flying in the sky.  I asked them what color their cows were and what they looked like.  Then I challenged them to go home and draw some cows flying.  

I was delighted to have one of my students, Clark, age 8, come back later in the day for his piano lesson, with his picture of cows that were white with blue polka dots.

*  Encourage your children to use their imagination by not providing them with lots of toys.  I loved watching my two preschool age daughters play secretary one day many years ago, using bananas as their telephones.

*  Encourage imaginations by reading to your children.  Every so often have them draw something related to the book.  

*  This site has lots of fun ideas to encourage your children's imaginations, with many ideas requiring nothing but talking with your child--like "Mouse-Eye View, and If Pickles Could Talk.  What a great way to keep your child quiet and busy while waiting in the doctor's office or grocery store line. 

And this by Walt Disney, "I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse."  I think that is hilarious and yet, profound.
Thanks for reading,



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