Parent Only Lesson
Stan M., Ohio
Hey, a few months ago I started contemplating the idea of having the first lesson be only the parents. This week I started that practice and to be honest, I LOVED IT. I rewrote some of the stuff and how it was said. I added a little more to it since it was just Life Coaches and I could talk a little more freely. I had more time to ask them questions as well to fish out any concerns. I sensed they were a little more honest without their kids being there.
First, I believe this “parents only” session firmly marked that they were instrumental to the process and to the degree I brought them separately for the first lesson. I can imagine a few parents in the past that this would have solidified their importance better and would have helped their students be more successful. Despite all the words in the past I have said to parents about their importance – on that first and sequential lessons, I felt this first “parent only” lesson was an action that demonstrated it clearer.
I was able to get through a lot more stuff and not feel raced or distracted by kids that were encountering a lot of words. And the parents seemed more engaged than in previous “first lesson” conversations because they weren’t tending to squirmy kids or having that internal thought, “I bet my kids are really bored at this. Hey, maybe I am bored as well.” I played Amazing Grace and had them break the “singing” in the studio barrier right away. Just great stuff.
I ended the session with telling the parents that we were going to cover much of the same stuff next week when your students are in here. I will cover the commitment stuff with the kids, how the kids/parents approach the piano, etc.
Just thought I would throw it out there for your consideration. Take care.
P.S. It also started me thinking about having a scheduled “parents only” lesson periodically throughout the year. Maybe every three months or so. I believe vision leaks so having them come in and recast vision is something I would like to do. I also trying to add a particular element to the culture I am trying to develop in my studio and I would take that time to cast or recast that culture
Jacqui G., BC, Canada
That sounds like a great idea, Stan. I am starting to teach soon and will try this – wondered how to keep the students engaged through the introductory lesson, with so many serious things to cover with the parents.
I’ve had similar experiences after Kindermusik Young Child lessons, trying to discuss something important with a parent while their child interrupts.
Do you charge for the first lesson then?
Stan M., Ohio
“Do you change the first lesson?”
A little bit. There are some things that I feel the students will need to hear that the parents have already heard and few things that I feel have been covered just for the benefits of the parents that won’t be replayed. I warned the parent’s about this last week. Matter of fact, one of the parents asked “Are you going through this with the kids next week as well?” just after the section about commitment. I assured them “yes”.
I sense much of what I covered in this “parents only” session will make that first class move smoother which is always good.. I gave the parents the materials to open and gave them the homework assignment of watching the “Welcome Video” and to go no further. I ran out of time in this first session but I had hoped to walk through navigating the video as well. I know what I can do next time to ensure that this unfolds correctly.
I am hopeful watching the “Welcome Video” and listen to the audio recording this week will create some additional excitement about starting. However, I am conflicted a little bit on this since I see the kids don’t get the chance to open the materials. No big deal to us but I know the kids like doing that. However, they are to bring their materials next week and will select a colored portfolio case I give them for storing the materials. Maybe that will suffice.
Well, if you end up trying this out, please let me know what you did that worked. I love not recreating the wheel.
Kevin M., California
This is a really interesting conversation and it will be great to get a follow up down the road on any differences you noticed in your students who had their first lesson this way versus what you were doing before. As Neil is often fond of saying, the program in many aspects is fluid and can be molded and changed, and is constantly evolving.
I would like to add another viewpoint if I may. First I would caution newer teachers to be careful about presenting the FIS, or foundation lessons etc. differently than Neil’s trainings. The Simply Music program is so successful for many reasons, as we all know. Neil spent a great deal of time putting together how the FIS and other lessons should be presented. To get the results that Simply Music promises it is important to get the conversations/presentations down the way Neil has instructed.
Personally I like to have the kids present at the first lesson for a few reasons. I like to see how the parents and kids interact in this group setting, it tells me quite a bit on how they will interact on our next lessons. It can also alert me ahead of times to any issues I may have to address before our next class, acting up, not listening to their parents, trying to get attention from others in the group, etc.
I am a strong believer in conversations; they really are the key to success with this program. What I mean by that is after the FIS If there were a few kids I might be worried about, whether it’s maturity, not behaving or any number of issues, I would be on the phone with the parent and begin a conversation on any concerns they or I have. I would also explain how the first lesson is going to happen again, what I am going to expect as far as cooperation from the child and life coach. If for example I am concerned the kid may be to wriggly to sit still I may ask there be two life coaches on that day to help out. One can concentrate on the lesson, and the other can manage the child if need be etc.
Stan M., Ohio
That is a fantastic response. As much I like the idea I am exploring, it comes after many foundation lesson. And what I plan on teaching that next lesson won’t be all that different than a standard lesson.
With that said many things I am trying to resolve are possibly not having the right perspective as you kindly point out. I haven’t been intentional enough to recognize fully what that first lesson can unfold for me in the sense of the nature of the student and the family dynamics.
Thanks for this thoughtful response.
I believe there are many options available to us as teachers, and instinct and experience are wonderful things.
Personally I really like seeing the child / children and parents together and how they interact with one another. I teach at home and limited to a couple of students together. It is very enlightening to see how the children behave, how the parents discipline the child’s behavior and the child’s response. Tells me so much about how I need to approach the child and the lessons.