Loosening the apron strings

Moms and dads are awesome safety nets. We are always trying to stay two steps ahead of our children, anticipating every wayward stride and guiding them back onto the right path where they will remain unharmed, happy and void of all discomfort or frustration. That is our job right? To care for and protect…well sometimes the same wonderful safety nets can become straight jackets for our children preventing any growth or learning.

One of the hardest jobs for parents is to allow their children to do things on their own. Sometimes it is due to genuine fear that their child will be hurt (hesitation to let them climb a tree or over monkey bars or use scissors for the first time) other times parents are overcome by an uncontrollable need for perfection and other times it is a lack of patience. 

Check your apron strings…are they too tight??

In music class, your teacher provides many opportunities for your child to learn a new skill or to develop it. Cutting, pasting and colouring  or printing all build the fine motor skills needed for playing the piano. It is disheartening when I see parents take over the tasks that have been given – especially when the child is saying, “Mommy please can I do it!”.  Sometimes our children need help in the form of guidance, encouragement and for some tasks they may need physical help but it is so important to give them a chance to do things on their own. This is how they will learn.

We can also help our children by allowing them to listen carefully to instructions from their teacher and encouraging them to ask the teacher questions if they do not understand.  Too much instruction from mom or dad can lead to a lack of participation in class because the child knows mom or dad will just tell them what to do (or do it for them) later.

How can you support your child while still allowing room for exploration and growth?

  • consider the reason behind each activity. (a task that involves cutting or colouring will undoubtedly be an opportunity for fine motor skill building. Perfectly cut out items or beautiful colouring are NEVER a requirement or a focus…NEVER! Let your child do the cutting and colouring.)
  • it is important to remind your child to listen to the teacher’s instructions and for you to listen to them as well. While I love the enthusiasm of parents who try to explain things to their children in class, what often happens is children miss MY instructions because they are so focused on mom or dad and they lose out on the guided discovery I have carefully put together for them. It is important to help your child to focus on the teacher and to ask questions if they have missed important information or do not understand something.
  • when working at the keyboard it is important to always focus on the music. Point to the notes. Help your child to track and to stay with the group. As soon as you point to the piano keys, your child will lose his/her spot and will no longer read the music, but will wait for you to show or tell them what keys to press.  If you lose your way, skip to the next bar – get ready and join in when the class gets  there.
  • when playing a piece solo it is important to give your child the chance to self correct. Sometimes parents tell their child that a mistake has been made and even indicate the correct note before the child has even pressed the key!! Give your child a chance to realize their own mistake (it may not be until the end of that bar of music…) and to figure out where they went wrong before you step in to help. Self correction is one of the key signs of understanding. Watch for it…give time for it.

Parental involvement is the best part of MYC classes. When moms and dads are working with their child as a team, amazing things can happen! You are the key to your child’s success in class and at home. If you find that you are having difficulty being a support to your child without “taking over” please talk to your teacher. He/she will have many ideas to help you and your child make the most of class time and home practice time too! Go team!!

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