It's been an interesting year so far, and now that summer is winding down, I'm sure parents everywhere are missing the familiar routine of fall classes resuming.
With Buncombe County doing Plan B +, a mix of online and in-person classes, many families are making the tough decision whether or not to school in person or at home. The pressure on parents is heavier than in usual years; while some folks are calling 2020 the year of "enforced rest" most parents assuming the role of homeschool teacher would likely disagree with this assessment!
As we begin this new year, there are a few things I think we can keep in mind to help ease the transition. In many ways, children have a bottomless capacity for absorbing new information, but it's not just math, science, and reading that they can and do absorb. They're constantly absorbing knowledge about how much they are loved, respected, listened to, and appreciated. These basic building blocks are the foundation of a well-rounded person - not how fast they can play their D Major scales, whether their piano technique is stellar every day, or what grade they got in their geometry class.
Just as you'll want to be gentle with your children, remember to be gentle with yourself as well. This year is likely to be a tough one, with many challenges for parents, teachers, and students alike. Remember that your children aren't getting the social time they are used to, and that social connections help soften these challenges in so many intangible ways. Additionally, face time with their favorite teachers can be a lifeline of support for many young people that they aren't getting in the way they are used to. A favorite teacher can be a beacon of safety and acceptance particularly for young people who struggle to connect with their parents or folks their own age.
These days, with families spending much more face-to-face time, it's more important now than ever to keep the perspective that we are raising a future generation of people who will need to problem solve, be resilient, and feel secure even when things don't go as planned.
While all of these characteristics definitely have their place in music study and the Suzuki Classical Music curriculum, young pianists, guitarists, and violinists are more than what they are doing and what they are learning. It's our job as teachers, parents and coaches to make sure they know they are heard and supported no matter what the outcome of their current project or assignment. Not everyone who takes guitar or piano lessons is destined to grow up and become a classical musician, world famous pianist or guitarist, songwriter, or performer, just as not everyone who learns math or science will become an engineer or scientist. The person and their well-being and development is the point, not the task at hand.
As we move forward through this year, there will be challenges with scheduling, holding our children, students, and ourselves accountable, and keeping a good practice routine along with additional homework and online class demands. When it gets tough, and it likely will, I hope we can all remind ourselves of the bigger picture - the "why" for the what we're doing. We still have to keep moving forward and challenging ourselves, our students, and our children, but let's keep in mind why we are doing the work and the values we're trying to instill in this process.