My post today is in reference to two articles. The first is from Today’s Parent and it’s about over-scheduling your child. There are some great tips like watching for burnout, selecting things that the child is truly interested in, and just as important, making sure that you as a parent are not too exhausted either.

I wish they had mentioned something about commitment though. It’s a great value to impart through our actions and expectations. And speaking of our values, how many of us parents have our child learning music because we feel it is an important thing to learn? How badly did we want to (but perhaps could not) do it as a child? Perhaps we quit music lessons and wish our parents had encouraged us to continue. I don’t think that’s a negative influence on our decisions regarding our child’s programming, as long as you don’t take it too far!

I admire every single one of my music families because I know that music lessons are a very big commitment, and it’s even bigger in and MYC setting. The parent goes to lessons, regulates practice at home and is expected to understand the material right along with the child. I guess it would be considered a two-for-one, but what a lot of work! It’s just not as simple as dropping off your child and coming back in 30 minutes.

But I do believe the method is worth it. I have now taught some of the same children for 5 years and watched them grow from wiggly toddlers or precocious pre-schoolers into confident young musicians. And I know the path wasn’t all roses- sometimes thorns! I hope that parents can see the transformation and will celebrate the successes at the recital this year.

This brings me to the next article about “Giving Gold Stars”  or rather, praise. Children need it; they crave it. And I like to give it 🙂 Sometimes it’s stickers, sometimes a party (like the Movie Night coming up) but more often it’s words about their progress. “I like the legato you put into that song” or, “The was really forte! Wow!” And I also like to notice progress. “Can you believe how well your bridges are coming a long? Two weeks ago you didn’t even know the C-A and now you’re doing ALL of them in the scale!”

I really prefer words to stickers. I mean, I won’t sticker EVERY single thing. They’ll become meaningless. Don’t get me wrong, they’re fun, but a pat on the back (literally!) or saying specifically where the improvement has happened makes more sense to me.

How do you offer praise? What are your thoughts on over-scheduling for children and the rest of the family?

-Mairéad

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Gold Stars and Overscheduling

  1. I think children like praise, but also like to work towards goals. Children are concrete thinkers who like to see concrete awards for progress. At school they had a chart with lots of challenges, each challenge passed attracted a gold star on the chart. Each target of group of stars passed caused another type of award, a treat of some sort. Don’t under estimate the power of giving paper, stars or over trinkets to children, they may mean nothing to the adult, but children value them.

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