“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” – Albert Einstein
I came across this quote the other day and was hit by how true this is of many Suzuki teachers I know and how they teach. We strive to really teach the children in front of us, not only to teach the instrument or song a child is learning.
The quote also got me thinking about the way parents practice with their children. Are the parents that I work with practicing with their children with this kind of attitude? Do they focusing on understanding how their child learns and then setting up practice to use that knowledge to help their student learn? Are we setting up a practice environment that helps them thrive?
In Suzuki ECE training we learn that we as adults are our children’s practice environment.
The tone we set . . .
The mood we bring . . .
The attitude we have . . .
Even beliefs we have about what & how children can learn.
All of these things work together to created the environment that your child is learning and practicing in all week long.
That’s a huge responsibility as a parent and often when I share this with parents I see their eyes get wide when they realize how big a responsibility it is.
I have been a Suzuki parent too. None of us is doing it perfectly. There are days that no matter what environment we create to practice in, our children have a tough time. We can’t control our children’s moods or willingness to cooperate. Creating a good practice environment is not a magic wand that makes everything easy right away. I do understand all of that.
However, if you find that your child is constantly resisting practice
Or if you are dreading it as a parent.
If you find your self getting frustrated often
or if there are tears in practice on a regular basis
then the practice environment is worth taking a good hard look at.
Sometimes life is overwhelming and it’s hard to set aside other worries or stresses for practice time.
Sometimes we are in a rush and focus too much on just “getting practice done” vs setting up an environment where our children learn best.
I challenge you to instead to create an environment of encouragement.
An environment where you give your child permission to make mistakes and learn from them. Where the tone is calm and low on pressures of time and accomplishment.
I challenge you to set up a practice environment where there is a spirit of cooperation with your child and where you both feel like you are working as a team to learn what the teacher has assigned for the week.
I challenge you to set up an environment where your child builds ownership and feels empowered by figuring out how they learn and being able to work within that every day as they practice.
When I practiced with my own children I often made a big cup of tea first and took some deep breaths to get myself in the right frame of mind. It’s a challenge to teach all day and be able to create the right practice environment for your own children at the end of it, so we often practiced in the morning. I learned over time that if we improved one thing and did it in a way we both felt positive about our time together that outweighed any other goals or agenda I had for practice time.
You are the practice environment.
If that is true . . .
What needs to change about how your family practices?
How can you come to practice times ready to make it a great one?