Parents & Students overscheduled and overburdened?

Jennifer said: Aug 13, 2014
Jennifer JansonFlute
Philadelphia, PA
1 posts

Hi! I am a Suzuki flute teacher in Philadelphia and have had a solid studio for 15 years or so. I’ve been noticing something that is happening in my studio this year and looking for some ideas and help with the situation.

It seems that many of my families (I’ve had for years) recently have become overburdened, overscheduled and unable to commit as they did in the past. I’ve noticed that it is definitely affecting students’ progress overall. (These are not “New” students. They know the drill).

This is showing up in my studio in several ways:

  1. Group class attendance is very low- parents are not even letting me know they can’t make- just “no shows.” I’ve considered it could be the day/time of class and maybe trying for a different day, but have a sense the same thing would happen.

  2. The “at home practice partner parent” has been sending the other parent/spouse to the lesson, who knows nothing about the process. The non-practice partner parent is very reluctant and hesitant about participating in the lesson, feel incompetent so I have to back-track to teach them, and spend most of lesson time on this and not the student.

  3. I have also had a handful of times where parents have actually dropped their kids off and not attended their lesson. (I do have older students who come alone, but this is happening with my younger group 6-9 years).

I realize that this could very well be my fault of course, even with my efforts towards Parent Education. I do parent lessons at the beginning of each year, have all parents sign a contract of their responsibly as Suzuki parents, and try my best to create community in my studio in many ways. This has worked great in the past but not recently.

I am seeking for a way that I can address this situation gently but firmly, because I am concerned that I am going to lose students. This is my livelihood and I am very passionate about my work. However, parents are absolutely essential to the process, and I need to get them back on track.

Has anyone else experienced this problem? Any advice?

Mengwei said: Aug 13, 2014
Mengwei Shen
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Cello
Jersey City, NJ
119 posts
  1. If someone doesn’t come to group for a while, I might say things like, we worked on that at group last week, or we’re going to play this game at group next week, etc. (in other words, you’re missing out). Sometimes I ask the student/parent directly at the individual lesson if they are planning to come—this is often because I’m planning some activity where it will be helpful to know exactly who will be there or not. I generally have pretty good attendance although I’ve found there are certain weekends where it seems everyone has made plans to do something else.

It may be that parents need a reminder of the benefits of group. If I notice that a student becomes particularly motivated because of seeing others play at group, I’ll point that out directly. I might also comment that it’s great that they were there when we worked on this and that, that I saw that they remembered such and such that they saw in group, etc.

  1. If not-the-usual parent shows up, I’d approach it with the child as—[other parent] gets to see what we’re doing! If the lesson notes aren’t written as well as they could be once in a while, we just have to roll with it. I might say to the child, let’s ask [other parent] to help you remember this, and first see if the parent got the hint. It would depend on how often this was happening or if I thought progress was suffering because of the attending parent not taking enough information home.

  2. On the second time of this happening, and especially if the parent offered no explanation as to any extenuating circumstance, I’d be ending the lesson early and walking out to the car or wherever to find the parent. And if they weren’t there before the next student arrived, they’d be getting an email or phone call the next day about my expectations!

Heather Figi said: Aug 29, 2014
Heather FigiViolin
Eugene, OR
97 posts

Will you please keep us updated on how this goes.

I would love to learn from you on how you navigate this. I wish I had more concrete advice to offer for your question. I am eager to hear from other teachers on this. I can relate but tend to be overly empathetic which does not produce the results that foster the excellence we know is possible.

Sincerely & Thanks!

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