Friday, January 22, 2010

Suzuki Method


Porter and Sophia are studying piano under the Suzuki Method. They have CD's they listen to during the day, and they begin their piano experience by first training their ear. I am required to attend all of their lessons and to sit with them during their practices. It's a lot, but it's been so rewarding to watch them learn and grow in their lessons. They also have a small group lesson every week for theory, and a large group lesson every month that teaches theory and gives the kids an opportunity to play for each other.


We have an amazing teacher who has taught for 20 years and who has 7 children of her own. There's nothing Porter can throw at her that she doesn't know how to handle. She can take a very sullen boy and get him laughing and joking by the end of the lesson. It's wonderful and I feel so blessed that we are able to associate with her.

It's so funny, I felt so strongly that we needed to take lessons with her, and I thought it was for Sophia. Now I realize that it was probably for Porter. I was able to get Sophia into a day time slot (this teacher takes only a limited number of students and rarely has openings) then, after getting to know me during the six week Suzuki parent training, she agreed to squeeze Porter in.

I had to complete my training before the kids could start taking lessons, I trained in September, and they started taking in October.

The training was amazing, I really felt like so many of the things we talked about applied not just to helping a child be a successful piano student, but to how to be a successful parents. It was inspiring. We talked about so much.

Some tidbits I took from training:

Lesson #1

If all of the students start running a race where the object is not to win but to finish, then if no one quits until they reach the finish line all have achieved the stated goal. It does not matter who is first. It is up to the teacher to see all finish and that all students adhere to the same high standards. Reaching this goal is not about winning it is about doing quality work and finishing the prescribed program. Okay, so think about this concept as it applies to piano... and two children learning at the same time... it doesn't matter if one learns quicker then the other, if they both learn the goal has been achieved... Think about how this concept applies spiritually, there are lessons or gifts that some have been given or learn quickly, but as long as we all learn those skills (think patience, faith, hope, love) the Lord will be pleased with our journey here on earth. Think about how this concept applies to running, my goals are individualized to me, not in how I compare to other runners, thus giving me a chance to always feel successful...

All children have talent... all children can learn... What a difference it will make for all children if parents and teachers can agree that talent (ability) is not inborn and all children have talent(ability). Honestly, at first I didn't know if I agreed with this, at least the part about all kids have talent in a certain area. The idea being that anyone can learn anything as long as they are willing to work hard enough. But it's true, I've always said anyone can run a marathon, if they go slow enough. We expect all kids to become readers, even if it takes them years to develop the skill. We don't give up on them if at first it doesn't come easy.... Think about how this applies to that thing you've always wanted to do, but didn't feel like you had the talent for... According to this, there's nothing holding you back.

If parents are convinced that ability/talent are created by hard work and parental involvement, they will be able to overcome discouraging times, persevere, enjoy the learning process and be greatly rewarded with a talented child. If we believe that talent/ability is developed in the environment, the fact that even adults can develop new skills should not surprise us. Never doubt that you and your children have potential just waiting to be tapped...Parents need to be convinced so they wont give up when the child's progress is slow or interest wanes. Good reminders for hard practice days...


Lesson 2

All of life's most important skills are taught by the parent.s

Let children learn through senses. Most of the teaching parents do in the first two years is done while showing and assisting the child with the activity, be that eating, walking or talking. Natural learning. Showing rather than telling.

Let children learn at their own pace. We talked so much about patience, and acceptance of allowing a child's effort to be good enough. Reasonable expectations. Accepting their offering so to speak and celebrating what they do well and not dwelling on the negative. The whole of Suzuki is so positive and loving and nurturing and supportive and accepting. Such good reminders for me at a time when I was struggling.

Let a child stay at a task such as instrument practice only as long as he can concentrate.

Allow plenty of time for careful repetition and review.

Teach child only one point at a time. Hmmm how often do I overwhelm them with things to do... not just in piano. Use soft touch. Touch the hand the to fix it, rather than telling them. Words aren't as effective or loving as showing. Focus on what they're doing right. Be patient and accept what they can do. Focus on what's important in your own life, so as to have time to help teach and rear children. An immaculate house is the sign of a wasted life. Our teacher told a story about serving in a RS presidency and driving her three young children around on snowy roads to collect teddy bears for adorable centerpieces for homemaking mtg, so it would be as good or better than last years... then realizing she'd spend all that time and endangered her children for something that wasn't worth it... how much better she could have spent that time... she told other stories of time and focus misspent wishing that instead she'd taken her kids to the park or played with them. It's okay if the bathroom isn't clean.
Parent's are the child's most important teacher. It's overwhelming, I stagger at the weight of my calling as a mother, yet it's so important to recognize the important role I play, and to not take it lightly. To treat it as with respect. To go to the Lord in prayer for help.

Lesson 3

Americans focus on kids being independent. Japan focuses on co-dependence, help kids as long as kids want. It's more of a team effort. Love is not expecting child to take over adult roles. Kids need you at piano with them to help them. Our kids need us for a lot more than piano practice. Maybe we do force too much independence too soon. As we help them in a cooperative way, their security needs will be met.
I could keep going, but the jist is clear. It could be called parenting with love... The theory is amazing. I have to say, implementing it is much more difficult then it sounds. But it's nice to know the ideal, and it was nice to review my notes for this blog post...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

high fructose corn syrup

do you know how much stuff has high fructose corn syrup in it???

* yoplait yogurt

* rice krispies

My quest to help Porter has continued... High fructose corn syrup, red dye forty...guilt!

change

I was released today from a three year run as second counselor in the Primary Presidency.

I knew the change was coming soon, not only were we the only presidency that hadn't been changed with the new bishopric, but the president is pregnant with her fourth child, and if things didn't change she would be raising her third baby in the back of primary, then to top it all off her husband just got called into the bishopric, yeah... we knew a release was imminent...

It will be good for the kids. Continuity is good, but so are new ideas and new ways to present Sharing Time, and new testimonies and personal experiences to share and new energy.

The timing of the change just feels good and right. It of course helps that we are turning primary over to amazing people.

I am grateful for the time I've had in primary. I'm grateful for the time I've had to strengthen my testimony through teaching and testifying about the simple truths of the gospel. I'm grateful for frequent opportunities to testify of my love for the Savior and of my knowledge of His Divinity. I'm grateful for the time I was able to spent helping the 8 year olds and their parents prepare for baptism, and to be a part of seeing that sacred ordinance performed so often. I'm grateful to have been able to see what my children were learning, and what they were capable of learning. I'm grateful to have been able to learn more new primary songs and listen to that music every week. I'm grateful for the love I have for the Primary children. I'm grateful for the opportunity I've had to work closely with amazing women. I'm grateful for the opportunity I've had to serve. I'm grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows me and knows where I need to be and what experiences I need to have and what I need to learn and how to teach those things to me. I only hope that I learned what I was supposed to and that I did all that I was supposed to do while I was there...

The Bishop said they didn't have a new calling for me yet, I'm sure that won't last long, until then I will enjoy my time in limbo, and try not to worry about what new calling might be coming my way. I'm leaving one of the best callings in the church...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

dog days






the update:
the neutering has helped to practically eliminate the indoor peeing, this is good, otherwise he'd probably already have a new home, however, he doesn't listen to me at all, not a wise move, because my vote is the all powerful vote in this household, just because I haven't petted him yet, doesn't mean I hate him, it just means I'm not a pet person, and I don't like to touch animals, they make my hands dirty, but he can stay as long as he doesn't chew any more of our stuff, and if he'll go in the kennel when I tell him too, and not make me late anymore because I'm chasing him down with a leash, so I can haul him up the stairs to his kennel, so he won't chew or pee while I'm gone, lucky for him, he's cute, and the kids are absolutely smitten with him

black and blue all over

the weapon...
the guilty party...

the victim...
yes... it hurt...
yes... it's been one week, and it's still back and blue
yes... he was angry...
yes... he was in time-out for a very, very, very long time
when I asked him why he threw the weapon at me he replied...
"I wanted to hit you mommy." nice...
I guess all of my children have anger management issues...
I now have a slight idea of what it feels like to be a battered woman, not only do you get side long glances in the store, but you feel emotional and vulnerable...
never underestimate the power of a frustrated two-year old who didn't get what he wanted...
As a side note, this is the second black eye I've ever received... The first was when a neighbor boy, Kasey Cogan, threw a rock at me. I was probably 9 or so...