Teaching a 4 year old in his home and having trouble with lesson routine. Help!!

Barb said: Mar 25, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

I taught a boy once who also took piano lessons from a teacher who taught in his home. Behavior was a challenge for me, but I think even more so for her. In my house, I could call him on my expectations for behavior, but I think it was harder for her as he was on his own turf.

There are teachers who make this work, but I would probably be more inclined to rent a room in a church or community center if I couldn’t teach in my home.

One idea which might be helpful to you in the situation you describe would be to explain to the parent how helpful it would be if they could have the set up ready when you arrive so that you can immediately have your entire focus on the child. I wouldn’t worry about teaching in the first few minutes, but engaging him with something… a joke, a picture, have him teach you a new German word, talk about a pet, or whatever. Another idea would be to have the parent involve the student in helping set up before you arrive, maybe while doing the assigned listening, which might help him to be mentally ready to start when you arrive.

The parents should be helpful in putting a teacher in a position of authority in the child’s eyes, and I think that that probably doesn’t happen as often as it should.

I am curious about something else regarding authority figures. … but I think I will start another thread. In your situation it is probably mostly about you being in the child’s home.

Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Kiyoko said: Mar 26, 2013
 84 posts

Hi! I’m writing from the perspective of a parent of a toddler and a Suzuki student who used to “tutor” young children when I was younger.

To help set the tone for the lesson, can you ask the parents to take time before the lesson to prepare the area? When a student goes to a teacher’s home or studio, they arrive early to take out their instrument, and prepare for the lesson.

Maybe you can make a poster with some fun pictures and a list of what needs to be ready to start the lesson. For cello: chair/stool, endpin stop, mat/foot chart, tighten bow, rosin bow, music stand with music and notebook, etc. In your case you might want to add pick up toys and books, and clear the table. It’ll also help with the language barrier and expectations for what is expected before the lesson can start.

Consider having the parent set up the child listen to some repertoire just before the lesson. I think it’s common among Suzuki families to listen to music on the way to a lesson, not only for listening but to “get in the mood. This can especially can help young children settle down to concentrate and focus when they are distracted or tired.

It may also help to set up a ritual to start to the lesson so that the child is able to distinguish lesson time from a casual visit by Teacher. This is where taking a bow at the start and end actually helps with young kids distinguish lesson time. Try using a set routine of familiar first exercises—”How is your bow hand bunny doing today?”, and so on and maybe review what has been assigned. Even if the time is filled with play, it is filled with play that you are guiding.

For shyness, using a “shy” stuffed animal can sometimes help to draw out a shy child. A stuffed bunny can bow too at the lesson start and can do the bunny bow hand exercise too. A footed stuffed bunny could have her or his own foot chart too…

I hope you find something helpful!


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