\"\"
Piano Forum logo

Need advice teaching a difficult 6 year old (Read 1668 times)

Offline musicfairy

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Need advice teaching a difficult 6 year old
« on: November 06, 2015, 03:17:07 PM »
I recently got a new 6 year old student and I've noticed that lessons have begun to become rather difficult lately. She's a bright kid and picks up things very quickly but sadly I've noticed a growing trend where she simply says "no" to anything I instruct her to do during the lesson.

My lessons are fun with varied activities (note naming, colouring activities, games, clapping to rhythms etc.) so she's not stuck at the piano bench for 30 minutes. But lately no matter what I suggest, she says no purely because I suggested it. I've noticed she has fun with many activities we do but seems to be the sort who never wants to let it show.

Yesterday evening was particularly bad - she just said "no I don't want to do it" (she was learning the first few notes of bass clef) and folded her arms and pouted, continued to say no to everything despite my suggestions of offering a game first or trying another piece/activity and coming back to this. Ultimately I had to be firm and gave her a choice of choosing one of three things to do, and told her doing nothing was not an option.

I keep the parent updated on how the lesson is progressing, and I have a structured assignment sheet that encourages the student to practice something everyday - a spot for a little sticker for each weekday. So far I have not brought her behaviour up as an issue with the parent but am strongly considering talking about it next lesson. The student is not a bad kid - she just seems a bit bratty during lessons (I don't know what she's like at home) and likes to say no for no's sake.

I'd like to know if there are any techniques I can use to handle kids like these. I like my lessons to be fun, and I am a kind teacher who prefers to nudge with positive encouragement rather than be strict. At the same time, I can't have every lesson with her be an uphill battle either.

I have no experience teaching a child like this (still a new teacher!) so I'm taking everything as a learning experience. I'd love to know if there's anything I can do to improve my lessons and discourage the child from acting this way. I'd appreciate any advice - thanks in advance! 

Offline adodd81802

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1120
Re: Need advice teaching a difficult 6 year old
«Reply #1 on: November 06, 2015, 04:14:39 PM »
I'm not a teacher. But I have seen this type of question on this forum before and seen other's responses and agree.

1. Inform the parents. At least voicing your concerns. Most definitely. You're a teacher not a parent, you teach not discipline, that's the parents job. How far down the line should you let it go, before the parents question the progress and child has informed them that the teacher lets her do "whatever she wants" Reputation in piano teaching is a big thing, and you don't want that tarnished from misinformed parents.

2. Consider having the parent(s) sit in on the lesson. Sometimes just the presence of the parent for a little while will drill in that the instructions from you are not optional, it also proves what you're saying if you have any issues with her following instructions while a parent is present.

3. Potentially the child is rebelling for a reason, whether that's to do with home life or some other issues they may have (even at 6!) again the parent being in on the lesson who ultimately knows the child better may be able to identify some issues you are not aware of.

Note this does not have to be considered a bad experience for the child (in my opinion) They should not need to be informed that doing badly on their lessons should be the reason the parents sit in, it should be suggested the opposite, that the parents want to see how well they do in the lessons.

If "do boring bit now, to get fun bit later" isn't working any longer, it would seem that the child is looking for something bigger, praise from a parent, or something at home.

Finally when I mention regarding discipline I don't want to suggest that you should sit back and be placid and hope the child comes around. As a teacher, there is an overlapping area where you have to be firm and not back down, when a child realises that you can play "that game" longer than they can, they will give in.

I am sure some more experienced teachers will be able to offer more advice on this. But hope anything from my waffling may help!

 
"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline asiantraveller101

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 211
Re: Need advice teaching a difficult 6 year old
«Reply #2 on: November 06, 2015, 05:30:56 PM »
I would recommend the same as Adodd81802. For such an age, it is best for parents to sit in. That child would not know what to practice when she gets home, even if you have written down the assignment and initiated a reward system. She may also be testing her boundary with you. Since you have tolerated her poor behavior in past weeks, she finds it more comfortable to rebel and act out. A 6-year old child can be manipulative if she is not monitored and such behavior not addressed. You will have to address the issue soon and not it drag on. "Being nice" may not work anymore. Be frank and tell her that her behavior is not tolerated and that you will not proceed to teach her if she is not cooperating. You can tell her to think about it and "threaten" to leave the room for a few minutes to confer with her parents. This is, of course, a short-term remedy. She probably has deeper behavioral issues that cause her to act up. However, with your "short" weekly lesson time with her, it is just impossible to go into her psychological state. Let her parents deal with that.
Good luck and keep us posted.

Offline musicfairy

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Need advice teaching a difficult 6 year old
«Reply #3 on: November 06, 2015, 06:01:01 PM »
Thanks so much - this is really helpful stuff for me. It's been two months of lessons so far with this student. I will bring it up with the parent next class and have them sit in if possible.

I've been teaching the student for two months now and for the first few classes the parent sat in on the classes. The first month of teaching did go smoother, now that I think about it.

Offline musicfairy

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Need advice teaching a difficult 6 year old
«Reply #4 on: November 16, 2015, 09:26:39 PM »
Just a quick update. Having the parent sit in is working well for now and I am really glad that I brought up the issue so they know what's going on. The lesson went smoothly for the most part and the one time the child decided to act up, she got a stern call from her mother.

Their initial impression was that the kid didn't necessarily understand that this is a lesson for learning - I suppose that the games were so fun that she thought it's just a play date! And so they saw fit to act in a way that they wouldn't otherwise act in say in a class at school. Either way, now that the parent is aware of what's going on, I hope that they can re-frame it for her and address issues. I think that just having them sit in and letting them know what was going on was a huge help and it puts the disciplining part squarely in their department.

Thanks so much for the advice and help! As a new teacher these things can be quite challenging at first - so thanks again for the helpful input and support!

Offline adodd81802

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1120
Re: Need advice teaching a difficult 6 year old
«Reply #5 on: November 17, 2015, 09:11:06 AM »
Good decision and I am glad it paid off.
"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."