About

What is SECE?

Suzuki Early Childhood Education Baby Class in Austin, TX, January 2012

Suzuki Early Childhood Education Baby Class in Austin, TX, January 2012

Image by Donald Jones

Suzuki Early Childhood Education (SECE) is a program in which a mixed age group of children meet weekly, building on concepts and skills laid out in the SECE repertoire while interacting with one another, their parents, and the teachers. The parent plays a central role in all activities in the belief that the parent is the child’s first and most important teacher. Through parent participation in prenatal, baby, and preschool classes, parents become partners in providing an enriched natural environment for the growth of their children.

Suzuki ECE seeks to build on the child’s natural delight in learning and lays the foundation for life-long learning that meets Dr. Suzuki’s goals for all children—to create an environment for children, free from pressure, in which they can gain skills, a sense of purpose in life, an understanding of discipline, and an appreciation of beauty.


History

When SECE founder Dorothy Jones first met Dr. Suzuki in 1972, she heard him say the words that would forever change the direction of her life: “Music education of a child should not start at birth but should start nine months before birth.” Two years later when she returned to Hawaii for the 2nd International Conference, he said, “I was wrong. The education of a child should not start nine months before birth, but nine months before the birth of the mother.”

In 1985 Dorothy traveled to Japan with her son David and had the opportunity to observe and study with Dr. Suzuki, Dr. Kataoka, and Miss Mori. Dr. Suzuki encouraged her to observe the preschool classes at Talent Education Institute and to start a school when she got back home. He always added, “…. And don’t forget the babies.”

Dorothy Jones teaching ECE Baby Class

Dorothy Jones teaching ECE Baby Class

In 1986, Dorothy began work on her school, Children’s Talent Education Centre. Over the next few years, Dorothy and her daughter Sharon developed a curriculum that has become the Suzuki Early Childhood Education program throughout the world. Through correspondence with Dr. Suzuki, Dorothy established a number of programs at her school including a prenatal program for expectant parents, a weekly baby and parent class, a weekly preschool and parent class, a five-day Suzuki preschool, and a five-day Suzuki elementary school.

Dr. and Mrs. Suzuki were tremendous supporters of her school. Teachers from around the world came to Children’s Talent Education Centre for training in Suzuki Early Childhood Education. At the 1989 Suzuki International Conference in Japan, Mrs. Suzuki herself introduced the Suzuki Early Childhood Program to the teachers in attendance.

Since retiring from the school she founded and directed for 12 years Dorothy has traveled the world extensively, focusing on Early Childhood Education Teacher Training. She has dedicated her life’s work to promoting what Dr. Suzuki believed was the most important job for all teachers: preparing parents and children for lifelong learning by creating an environment in which success is possible and happiness can prevail. Dorothy was honored as the 2010 recipient of the SAA’s Creating Learning Community Award (Read More about Dorothy and her contribution to the SAA).

In Dorothy’s definition, SECE is “the realization of potential through active and reactive participation in the environment, which surrounds a child from birth. SECE is based on the premise that the potential for every child is unlimited. Believing that any country’s most important resource is its children, Suzuki Early Childhood educators work in partnership with parents to create a stimulating learning environment. When the environment is rich and unpressured, Suzuki teachers observe that a child not only learns a skill but also gains a sense of purpose to life, an understanding of discipline, and an appreciation of beauty.”

“Shinichi Suzuki called this ‘Talent Education.’ The word ‘education’ (kyoiku) in Japanese consists of the kanji Kyo (to teach) and iku (to foster). It means to teach and to foster until the material is absorbed so that it becomes inner ability. When there is inner ability as the foundation, the ability to think and organize develops. This enables children to spontaneously stretch towards higher levels. The skill of fostering that inner ability, I think, is the starting point of instruction. Dr. Suzuki explains in detail how to foster ability as well as how to train in a perfect score for everyone.”
—Masayoshi Kataoka, Editor of Talent Education Journal, Spring 1989

For more about Dorothy’s history, vision, and impact, you can read her own article, “Why We Need Suzuki Early Childhood Education.”


SECE Beliefs

(excerpted from www.suzukiece.com)

Suzuki Early Childhood Education Baby Class with Sharon Jones in Austin, TX, January 2012

Suzuki Early Childhood Education Baby Class with Sharon Jones in Austin, TX, January 2012

Image by Donald Jones

Every child can learn
Suzuki educators know that ability is firmly and gradually developed at one level before introducing the next level. An important facet of Suzuki teaching is the “education of Momma”. This does not refer to the “Mother Tongue Approach” but was used by Suzuki to point out the importance of the parents in the process. The thorough mastery of one skill will ensure success as the next skill is introduced. Parents must not hurry the child but allow for confidence before proceeding. Parents and teachers must not “give up”. Just as every parent knows that their child will learn and speak their native language fluently, other abilities can be developed.

Ability develops early
Success in one task will lead to more success. The earlier a child learns the satisfaction that comes with success, the earlier that child can move on to new skill development in any of the domains (cognitive, affective kinesthetic).

Environment nurtures growth
When parents, teachers, and adults around the child are supportive and helpful, when they reward the child with positive feedback for efforts they make and when they show acceptance of the small successes that children have, the environment is nurturing and helpful for growth.


SECE Strategies

(excerpted from www.suzukiece.com)

Children learn from one another
Children who play with other children learn from them. All children use their senses for learning and their senses will motivate them to imitate their peers (especially if it looks like fun). They identify readily with children who are a little older and represent a “working” model. They often look to children just a little younger to practice the social skills that they have learned from older children.

Suzuki Early Childhood Education Baby Class with Sharon Jones in Austin, TX, January 2012

Suzuki Early Childhood Education Baby Class with Sharon Jones in Austin, TX, January 2012

Image by Donald Jones

Success breeds success
Success in any task has some implicit rewards but when the environment provides some social or physical rewards like approval or a hug, the child quickly learns to repeat the effort.

Parental involvement is critical
When parents are supportive and actively help children, their accurate feedback helps the process of learning to focus and learning becomes thoroughly mastered. Although a child learns by experience to avoid a hot stove after touching it, the feedback for much learning is more often muted and needs to be supported by an adult.

Encouragement is essential
The social reward of a supportive parent or adult (or other child) will speed the learning and remove doubt about what constitutes success in a child’s learning experience. No encouragement negates the fundamental reward of success in any learning experience. It is possible for the physical environment to provide the reward necessary but if there is no encouragement from any aspect, the learning is not complete.


Skills developed in SECE weekly classes

  • Listening/Sequencing Skills
  • Understanding Size
  • Pitch Skills
  • Number Skills
  • Motor Skills
  • Social-Emotional Development Skills
  • Vocabulary Skills
  • Character Development

News/Research

Active Music Classes in Infancy Enhance Musical, Communicative and Social Development
By David Gerry, Andrea Unrau and Laurel J. Trainor         
http://psycserv.mcmaster.ca/ljt/GerryUnrauTrainor_2012.pdf

Becoming Musically Enculturated: Effects of Music Classes for Infants on Brain and Behavior
By Laurel J. Trainor, Celine Marie,  David Gerry, Elaine Whiskin, and Andrea Unrau
http://psycserv.mcmaster.ca/ljt/AnnalsNY_Trainor,Marie,Gerry,Whiskin,Unrau2012.pdf