Parent Education lessons

Heidi said: Apr 7, 2006
 Violin
33 posts

I’m not sure which category to post this topic: parents or teachers. I am a teacher and I live in a smaller community and I’m building my studio. I have been to lots of teacher training workshops where major teachers in big programs say they hold parent education meetings for 5-6 weeks or more before the child can even begin lessons. I understand the importance on a theoretical level, but I have not tried doing this because I think if I did, people would not sign up for lessons. I do not have a waiting list and I start people one at a time as they call for lessons.

My question: if you do parent education lessons before teaching the child, what is it that you do for 5-6 weeks with the parents? Are there any parents out there who have experienced this sort of program, and if so, was it helpful to you in helping your child? I would love to move to a big city for 5-6 weeks and attend a parent workshop just to experience it, but that is not very practical at the moment. Can you help me understand the value of parent training before child lessons?

Connie Sunday said: Apr 9, 2006
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

We’ve been in exactly the same position as you. We’re doing fine (I have about 50 students), and we even live in a community—while small—which has a very large and active Suzuki program with the requirement that parents attend a lengthy education program.

The fact is, a LOT of parents don’t want to do that, or can’t, or don’t speak the language, or don’t have the time. Many of our students travel an hour or more to take weekly lessons, and they can’t come to the group lesson. Mom doesn’t speak English, either, in many cases.

What we do regarding parent education is to talk to them at length and consistently about the process, provide them with a listserv and online resources, a reading list, and hope for the best. We have materials in the studio for them to look at while they’re here. They often don’t read the materials on their own, and there’s no doubt that they don’t get as much as a parent would if they attended the usual Suzuki parent meetings.

I just think you have to work with them on an individual basis, patiently, and with great sensitiviity. I stress that the parent is the home teacher, and point out that the old traditional “vaccination theory of education” (where the parents buy the books and materials, pay for the lessons, drive up and drop the students off, etc.), just isn’t very effective, and not at all effective with four-year-olds.

I do sometimes feel that I would like to have more formal training, but one has to make a living; I do my training by buying music (etude books and quartet music, etc.) and by practicing and reading. I keep getting better at the instruments I teach and keep learning more by observing miniature scores, listening to recordings, and practicing (did I say I practice a lot? I do.) I have a masters in violin, and have done doctoral work in composition. And of course I’m constantly learning from my students.

I can’t answer your questions about what goes on during the parent meetings, and I’d love to know, also.

upbeat

I’m not sure which category to post this topic: parents or teachers. I am a teacher and I live in a smaller community and I’m building my studio. I have been to lots of teacher training workshops where major teachers in big programs say they hold parent education meetings for 5-6 weeks or more before the child can even begin lessons. I understand the importance on a theoretical level, but I have not tried doing this because I think if I did, people would not sign up for lessons. I do not have a waiting list and I start people one at a time as they call for lessons.

My question: if you do parent education lessons before teaching the child, what is it that you do for 5-6 weeks with the parents? Are there any parents out there who have experienced this sort of program, and if so, was it helpful to you in helping your child? I would love to move to a big city for 5-6 weeks and attend a parent workshop just to experience it, but that is not very practical at the moment. Can you help me understand the value of parent training before child lessons?

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:
http://beststudentviolins.com/library.html#handouts

Gloria said: Apr 10, 2006
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
72 posts

I have been having “Parent Training” prior to lessons now for about 3 years, and I cannot say how that has changed things for me. It really has, in my opinion, so many advantages: if a parent isn’t half way serious about the whole thing, then they will not do it AND I do not want them in the studio; after the training is complete (about 3 months) they can still make an aducated decision about whether to go for it or not; my parents are really appreciative of all they learn, their time alone with another adult who can help them, etc etc. I use the materials from J.Luedke; all she does now is help teachers with the issue of parent education.
I did not decide to do this lightly, but it really helped me set and maintain the standards high, instead of having a version of the Suzuki approach more diluted than not, to adapt to the existing environment. All I can say, it really works for me.

Heidi said: Apr 11, 2006
 Violin
33 posts

Thank you for your replies! I am glad to hear about your experiences. I agree, I think it would give a chance for people to back out if they are not serious about the philosophy.

Do you do parent education in small groups or one-on-one? At this point I don’t think I can wait until I have a small group of parents to even get together because people come to me one at a time throughout the year and I just want to get them started as soon as possible.

Thanks for any more ideas.

said: Apr 12, 2006
 122 posts

Parent ed can be done in groups or one on one, and though I like doing it in small groups I think it’s perfectly fine in your situation. Are you doing group class in addition to private lesson? If so, this is the one draw back about starting students sporadically throughout the year.

I use the first 6 weeks of the term for parent ed and the parents have to register for the whole term. By the time they start the parent ed classes I’ve already given them a phone orientation (15-30 minutes long), they’ve observe at least 3 weeks, and we’ve set up the private lesson time. The private lesson time is used to teach the parent the twinkles and the group time is parent ed.

I’m having a local teacher trainer teach the ECC course starting fall term for my parent ed in my program.

“When love is deep, much can be accomplished.”
-Shinichi Suzuki

Lisa said: Apr 13, 2006
Lisa Lederer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Boston, MA
11 posts

I find that my program changed signifcantly for the better when I added a lengthy parent ed program.

I use the first 8 group lessons of the fall term for parent education. We talk about the philosphy and all the parents learn how to play the Twinkles in these sessions. They get practice teaching each other and we talk about what they are experiencing in the home lessons their children. I find the parents have a better understanding of Suzuki, what I expect of them, and what to do in practicing with their children because they have experienced it themselves in their class. They make friends working with each other and a very nice support system quickly develops.

My program is full and I rarely take students after the beginning of the year, so I only run parent ed in the beginning of the fall term.

Kirsten said: Apr 13, 2006
 Violin
103 posts

I guess I can say that before I required parent education I was able to take 2 out of 3 parents/students who came to me to ask about lessons. Now I only end up taking 1 out of 3. I require 3 meetings free of charge, usually one on one. I do not charge for the meetings, but ask the parent to purchase and begin reading “Nurtured by Love” before coming back.

Kirsten

Melissa said: Apr 14, 2006
 Piano, Flute
151 posts

I first start the educating process with my parents on the phone, when they inquire about lessons. I then meet with them and we talk about the Suzuki method and what is required of them.
When their child starts lessons is when I educate the parents, along with their child.
It’s kind of hands on approach. Their child is there. I feel I can educate better, seeing the dynamics.
I missed Ms. Leudke’s workshop on parent education classes, a couple of years ago, because I had to teach.
What is taught?
My goodness, what do you teach parents that takes 6 to 8 weeks of classes?
I am really interested in this. Does it really help? Or can it turn off parents? Especially if they might be a shy or an intimidated type.
Thank you for the insight.

said: Apr 14, 2006
 122 posts

honeybee

I missed Ms. Leudke’s workshop on parent education classes, a couple of years ago, because I had to teach. What is taught?

My goodness, what do you teach parents that takes 6 to 8 weeks of classes?
I am really interested in this.

Jeanne Luedke does talks on parent education and running a business. I’m not sure if the business aspect was included as part of her talk or if it came up in the talk. Check her website out for more info:
http://www.parent-child-education.com

I’ve been doing parent ed for 4 weeks and it’s not enough-the next group of families I start will have parent ed for 6 weeks before the child begins lessons. The group classes will be an ECC course spread out over 6 weeks-this should cover all the Suzuki background. Though talking about practicing won’t happen, so I may have to address that in the private lessons. The first 6 private lessons will be for the parent to learn to play the twinkles, but it might even be hard to get through the twinkles in this short of time.

“When love is deep, much can be accomplished.”
-Shinichi Suzuki

Melissa said: Apr 14, 2006
 Piano, Flute
151 posts

It would be nice to teach them Twinkles before hand.
And as a group of parents learning together.
How many do you have in your group?
How do you fit this in with your teaching schedule?
How long is the class?
Do you charge your usual hourly rate when teaching parent ed class?
Thanks junebug and others. Sorry if I’m asking questions that have already been answered.
Also… Has any parent(s) felt uncomfortable with this? Dropped out, etc…

said: Apr 14, 2006
 122 posts

Honeybee asked:
“How many do you have in your group?”
At least 3 parents since I need at least 3 kids per group class. I prefer 5-8 kids per group class.

“How do you fit this in with your teaching schedule?”
The parent ed classes are held during the beginner’s group class time. The parent’s violin lesson is during their child’s private lesson time. This is not extra on top of my teaching schedule-I set the group schedule by year, and then private lessons for beginners are scheduled when I have openings in my schedule. The beginning kids don’t come to lessons until the 7th week of the term.

“How long is the class?”
45 minutes for group class, 30 for private lesson.

“Do you charge your usual hourly rate when teaching parent ed class?”
This is part of the normal tuition. I use the first 6 weeks of a semester for parent ed, both during the group (philosophy) and private (violin technique) lessons. All my other students have group and private lessons as normal-it’s only the new beginner’s parents that have their own group and private lesson for the first 6 weeks.

“Also… Has any parent(s) felt uncomfortable with this? Dropped out, etc…”
My dropout rate has dropped since I began doing parent education. I’ve found if a parent isn’t willng to do this it’s likely they won’t be willing to practice daily with their child and commit to working through problems. By having these education classes it also begins to get communication started-parents tend to be more open to talking about problems. The also tend to be relieved they have this instruction before beginning lessons!

“When love is deep, much can be accomplished.”
-Shinichi Suzuki

Gloria said: Apr 15, 2006
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
72 posts

This is how I do the parent education.
If someone is still interested in lessons after I tell the about the 3 months of training (prior to lssons with the child), then we set a time, not neccesarily inside of my regular teachng hours, althought it usually works out, and I schedule the parent for 45 minutes. I do not wait to have a group because I like the one-on-one better, as we often end up talking on very personal terms (the parents open up quite a lot this way); I charge per hour and have flexibility with both our schedules (for once).
I use one of Luedke’s wokbooks (III), so the parents have to buy that (I often do that for them directly fron Luedke) and “Nurtuered” and “Ability…”, by Suzuki; on top of that, I teach them to play; we start with basic sitting, feet, etc ( they don’t know these things even if they can play) and start Twinkles, working on posture, loose arms, etc. I tell the parents that once the workbook is done with and the child atarts lessons, as the child is usually very young and can not sit for a 30 min. lesson she will continue her lessons, as she needs to stay ahead of the child to be able to understand, help, and feel competent; I stress thr fact that we are doing this together; as the child can sit longer and the mom’s lessons gets shorter, I add time, so that we end up with a 45 lesson time for a while. The plan is for the parent to continue her lessons for as long as her child needs her help; I have a group of very savvy and motivated parents in the studio; not all want to take lessons long term, specially if the have a good music education, but I have found out I can never trust what the parent knows and do not know.
It works well; the parent ed has changed everything in the studio; I am also sendng a message out there that this is not for whimps, if you know what I mean; those parents out there who are thoughtful and understand the potential will go for it and by having high caliper parents, the overall quality of the studio will improve.
Here is Luedke’s webpage :www.parentnewsletter.com. She has lots of stuff and her things are very good. Also, Susan Kempter, form New Mexico, has something along thoese lines as well, although I have not read her book “Betwen parent and teacher”; she is a violinist.
I hope this is helpful.

Melissa said: Apr 15, 2006
 Piano, Flute
151 posts

Yes, very helpful.
Thank you guayi and junebug.
I would probably have to do the one on one approach, since I very rarely have more than one or two openings at a time and rarely does more than one family inquire about lessons at a time.
At what age range of student are you talking about when it comes to Parent Ed class/lessons for the parent?
If a student is a late beginner, age 9 and up, do you still require Parent Ed class?

said: Apr 15, 2006
 122 posts

Nowdays I rarely start kids beyond age 8. It’s not that I don’t want to teach older beginners, but it seems like now that my program is established the parents who call have either transfer students or have 2 and 3 year old kids. If I start an older beginner who I delay putting in group I take the first four (at least) private lessons and do one on one parent ed. I do parent ed with every parent who is part of lessons and practicing.

I teach parent ed in groups for two reasons-since all my students have weekly group classes, I only start kids two times a year at the start of fall and spring term. I won’t start a beginner unless the child can be in a group class with other beginnners. By using both the private and group class for parent ed, we can go through philosophy and violin technique at the same time.

The second reason I do parent ed in groups is because I find parents are less likely to drop out if they have a community to look for support, ideas, and encouragement, and many bond during this time when they don’t have their kids to look after.

“When love is deep, much can be accomplished.”
-Shinichi Suzuki

Gloria said: Apr 16, 2006
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
72 posts

As for the age of students, I like the youngest ones the better; usually the mothers are receptive and want to learn; the kids are nor involved in anything, so that misic takes a first place from the beginning; If I get an older child, 9 or older, I have the parent take the same education course; so much of it has to do with the Suzuki philosophy, and that can impact the parent and the way they think about things, not just about learning music; Suzuki was from a Buddhist cultural background, which is in so many imperceptible ways radically differnt that our Western culture. There is a lot of value in that, in my opinion. Anyway, children often have siblings, sometimes younger ones; maybe I can help the parent help that child, too. Who knows. Knowledge takes no space.
You need to find something that works for you and your studio. Most of my colleagues around here do not bother with parent education, parent newsletter ( which I suscribe to for the studio from Luedke), etc; I could not call myself a Suzuki teacher and then do 30% of what I know I should be doing, and since I am not Japonese and work with mostly American parents, I have to do something with that cultural divide. Not easy, everything goes against it, but still worth the effort

Melissa said: Apr 18, 2006
 Piano, Flute
151 posts

I need to ask this question.
After doing parent ed classes with your parents. Do you ever still have parents and their children just not getting it.
I enrolled a new student today. And I’m thinking “oh, my” maybe I should do some parent ed with this Mom. But then I think of how I’ve been doing parent ed during our lesson time, as we go along. And for the most part it has worked. In the past 2 years, for example, I have had only one student drop out, because the parent was not doing what I hoped she would. She just wasn’t getting it. And now I wonder, If I had a parent ed class for her, would she have made it? Or just dropped out earlier.
So again, my question is: After parents taking the required Parent Ed classes, do you still have parents that drop out of your program because it might not be working for their child?
Thank you in advance for your replies.

Kirsten said: Apr 19, 2006
 Violin
103 posts

Honeybee,

You must be doing something really right to only have one concern in 2 years. Do you require observations? Maybe this parent would have understood if you sat down with her, and maybe not. You probably have nothing to fix in terms of your approach to your parents.

The good thing about the sit down and chat type of parent education is that it allows you describe what works and what doesn’t work before your description becomes personal. If people don’t know you yet, they don’t take your suggestions personally. I like to innoculate people with what I expect so that if I need to guide them later on, they will not feel that I had unstated expectations of them. A gentle reminder is much easier to deliver than a rude awakening.

Kirsten

Melissa said: Apr 19, 2006
 Piano, Flute
151 posts

I see the one main advantage to Parent Ed class, and that is, if it doesn’t work out, the parent will drop out hopefully before the child is involved.

The way I have been teaching is more on a case by case basis. If I see (when meeting for the first time) the parent and/or child is going to be somewhat higher maintenance, then I make sure they observe before starting lessons privately. If when I talk about the method and the child seems somewhat forcused and well behaved and the parent already knows of the Suzuki method, then we start in the following week, inviting them to observe throughout the week, one or two times before their first lesson. I then teach both parent and child together at the beginning, eventually weaning the parent from actively participating in the lesson.

Even that one child that left my studio, I felt I could have perhaps saved them, or at least the child, if I had parent Ed for the Mom.
And would consider having parent ed classes, if I knew they really worked.

So again, and I’m sorry if I am sounding like a broken record, but I am wondering…
Those of you that do have parent ed classes. After they actually start their lessons, does it sometimes happen that the parents still aren’t getting it or the child is too difficult to the point that they drop out of lessons (or hope they do!)

Knowing this will help me to determine if I should consider having parent ed classes.

Thanks to anybody that can answer this question.

Lisa said: Apr 19, 2006
Lisa Lederer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Boston, MA
11 posts

[color=red]It would be nice to teach them Twinkles before hand.
And as a group of parents learning together.
How many do you have in your group?
How do you fit this in with your teaching schedule?
How long is the class?
Do you charge your usual hourly rate when teaching parent ed class?
Thanks junebug and others. Sorry if I’m asking questions that have already been answered.
Also… Has any parent(s) felt uncomfortable with this? Dropped out, etc..
[/color]

honeybee,

I usually have 8 new parents/students in a pre-twinkle group. The kids start their private lessons at the beginning of the semester, but the parents take the group lessons for the first eight weeks.

The group is 45 mins long.

The parents learn at an accelerated pace. This keeps them a step or two ahead of their kids and allows them time to learn to play and to practice instructing another parent before they go home to try the assigned private lesson material with their kids.

I like this way of doing the parent ed because it allows the parents time to practice teaching, absorb material before they get to it with their kids but also allows them a time to discuss what they are encountering in teaching their children which is helpful to all of the parents in the class.

I also think it’s helpful for the parents to know just how hard it is to hold the bow and the violin correctly. In learning to play themselves, they have a better understanding and patience when they are practicing with their kids at home.

I can’t imagine teaching the parents Twinkle in any less than 8 sessions.

I think all of the parents “get it” and understand the philosophy and the mechnics of playing—of course, some are more successful than others in that respect… but I don’t find the class to be a reason parents/families drop out. Usually it is because they find that as much as they thought they could commit to a rigorous program, they could not really make it work in living up to the expected practice routine, or in working with their child.

Melissa said: Apr 19, 2006
 Piano, Flute
151 posts

Thank you Always Learning for your reply! :)

Melissa said: Apr 19, 2006
 Piano, Flute
151 posts

You know… I think I am going to call my new mom that just enrolled and talk to her about a parent ed class.
Because of starting so late in the year, this might be a perfect time for me to try Parent ed. Her child can then start lessons in the summer.
On our first visit, I have to admit, her child was very sweet and cute and definately wanted to play the piano, but was also quite all over the place; LOTS of energy! I think this mom might a perfect candidate for parent ed.

Thanks to all that posted on this thread!
These posts have helped me to think it through.

Lynn said: Apr 20, 2006
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
173 posts

Always Learning: That’s a good idea, using the first 8 weeks of group class to teach the parents. Maybe I am completely lacking in imagination, but I find it a real strain to try and do a half hour class with beginners when all I have to work with is play feet and bow bunnies! Do you have the parent get full size violins, or do they work with their kids’ instruments?

Like Honeybee, I flip flop on trying to initiate a separate parent education component. One the huge benefits of a dedicated class is that the parents form connections with other parents who are grappling with the same questions. That, I would say, is as important as what actual information gets transmitted. On the other hand, in my experience, most of my families, who are now very invested in the work we are doing, would probably have gone elsewhere if, when they called for lessons, I had laid out an extended process in front of them a la Jean Luedke. There are enough other teachers in my area, that even trying to coordinate a start time for new beginners in September or January so that I can have a pre-Twinkle group, with regular observation leading up to the start is difficult, since many of the families will go elsewhere if the start time is months away. I also think that it’s hard to know what you need to know until you are actually trying to put the knowledge to use. There this great philosophy, then there’s this child! And right now, they don’t seem to be going together!!!

Here’s an idea that’s been simmering in my back brain for a while: There’s a pretty defined skill set that we get started in the pre-Twinkle stage in our students, both instrument specific/technical and personal growth—behavior, self-discipline, cooperation, etc. and we tailor our work within that skill set to the needs and pre-disposition of each student. What would the comparable pre-Twinkle skill set be for the parents? And couldn’t those skills be targeted by an accompanying parent assignment that they could then cultivate in the context of working with their child? Parents so badly want to be effective, and I am sure that they would feel much less overwhelmed by the process or discouraged by persistant kid antics if they had their own one-point, step-by-step progress that they could chart.

Gloria said: Apr 20, 2006
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
72 posts

To Lucy. I hear you when you say 3 months, or whatever lengh or parent ed you were thinking of, is so long; on the other hand, you would have very well informed parents, understanding the phylosophy AND the educational approach of Suzuki, plus they would already be playing just enough to be a teacher at home; all in one blow! do you know how that frees up my mind when I start teaching the child? I know the parent by then quite well, it is SO much easier. And, no, people do not drop out, just the opposite; I have been gettint many more referrals after I started doing the pre-lesson training for the parents. They are really thankful they have this opportunuty to learn.
You could just start with a shorter program, and see what you get. When I decided I was ready to do it, I was fed up with parents being so low at getting anything I was telling them; they do need that time for themselves, they deserve to be prepared, and they do want to help their children, you just have to them they can and should do it. It really is worth it.

Melissa said: Apr 21, 2006
 Piano, Flute
151 posts

Thanks guayi, I’m going to give it a try!

I have managed, but it has been hard with a handful of parents that have left it to me to do most of the “teaching” (work,) and it’s always me that pulls the child through. Very hard work, but I have managed, as well as getting tired and starting to get burned-out! Not good!
It would be nice to have the parents do most of it; educating their child at home. That truly is what the Suzuki method is all about, isn’t it?

I wonder if Dr. Suzuki and/or Dr. Kataoka offered parents ed class. Does anybody know?

Lisa said: Apr 22, 2006
Lisa Lederer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Boston, MA
11 posts

[color=red]Do you have the parent get full size violins, or do they work with their kids’ instruments?

Most of my families, who are now very invested in the work we are doing, would probably have gone elsewhere if, when they called for lessons, I had laid out an extended process in front of them a la Jean Luedke. There are enough other teachers in my area, that even trying to coordinate a start time for new beginners in September or January so that I can have a pre-Twinkle group, with regular observation leading up to the start is difficult, since many of the families will go elsewhere if the start time is months away.
[/color]

Lucy,

Most of the parents in the ed class get full sized violins—either they rent them (the local shop has extended as well as short term rentals), or borrow them, though if they are stretched financially they have the option to use their kid’s violins. I prefer for them to get a full size though, because holding a 1/16 or 1/10 violin doesn’t give them the real deal, so to speak. It’s difficult to get the correct set-up on the little violins, but it’s super easy for them to hold with their heads. Not the same experience as using a full sized.

As for losing students because of running a class and/or presenting it only at certain times of the year, maybe that is so. As I said in a previous post, I only run the parent ed in September. I can do this because my program is full. Everyone who calls for information gets an extended conversation about the program, parent ed class and how it works, expectations for practice, etc. I also make an appointment for them to come observe. Almost everyone who is interested in what I have presented to them on the phone does come in at least once, sometime more. Sometimes those who hear, in this first conversation, what is expected of them decide that this is not the right program for them (i.e. there is too much of a commitment involved, or they decide that Suzuki is not for them, they don’t want group—which is required), and there are those who are ready to go at that moment and don’t want to wait until next September. I live in a large urban area with lots of options for music study… I am happy to suggest other programs/teachers they can call.

These conversations are taking place throughout the year. Come September, this leaves me with a group of parents/students who REALLY want to come into my program. They have already made an investment by waiting for an opening.

Jennifer Visick said: May 4, 2006
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
997 posts

I’ve been using Susan Kempter’s guide “Between Parent and Teacher” —it’s really very good as a springboard, with outlines of what a parent ought to know about Suzuki philosophy, practical stuff, it’s divided into 8 lessons—it also comes with “sample” parent handbook, and a few other copy-able tools in the back pages.

I offer every family in my studio 1 hour for a Parent-Teacher Meeting each month. I require them to take advantage of this at least once each year. Mostly, it’s parents of beginners who take advantage of the “once-a-month” availability, for several months in a row. Mostly I get positive feedback; I usually use about half an hour of the meeting to preview upcoming teaching techniques, let the parent in on any gimmicks or games I might use, and I also often get ideas from them about how to work with their child better. It’s a great help to me—I wouldn’t stop doing it unless I found a better way to get this information out of the parents.

Older students’ parent’s will usually have their ptm at the end of the school year—right before we take a break from lessons—and it ends up being more of an evaluation of the year.

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