Ideally, every practice time would be a joy, not a chore. You’d call your child over and they’d come willingly, feeling excited to work on their assignments. They’d stay focused through the entire practice session, with no tangents or distractions. Although this situation isn’t attainable every practice time, I hope that with these suggestions, it can become closer to reality!
To help your child come willingly to practice, it’s important to prepare them mentally. It’s ideal to set up a predictable practice routine so your child knows what to expect. Give your child a tenand five-minute heads up that practice time is approaching, and help them start finishing up whatever they are doing. Make sure all their needs are met beforehand - offer water, a bathroom run, and perhaps a snack before beginning.
To help your child be excited to work on their assignments, use games and incentives! These will help keep your child engaged until they are experienced enough to see the intrinsic value in practicing. Some great games that I like to use in lessons are Jenga, Connect 4, and Cat Stacks. Other fun ideas are: trying to throw small pom poms into your case after each correct repetition, making an audience out of stuffed animals by adding a new “audience member” after each correct repetition, or doing jumping jacks. Incentives like earning stickers, small prizes, or treats can also help your child be more motivated to practice.
To help your child remain focused through the whole practice session, work within their abilities.
Remember that focus grows! Give your child time to adjust to this more organized way of learning. At first, practice may seem very inefficient, as your child needs hugs or chat breaks every few seconds. Give them a chance to get it out of their system, and then gently redirect their focus back to the task at hand. Gradually, you’ll see an improvement in the amount of time your child can spend on a task. Keeping the practice area neat, quiet, and calm will also help your child stay concentrated.
As you and your child work together more, and try these suggestions, I hope you’ll find a comfortable, balanced routine during practice time.
- Shannon Jansma, published in the March 2018 issue of the Ann Arbor Suzuki Institute newsletter