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Teaching young siblings from home


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#1 RPassacaglia

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 08:22

I just have a question about the logistics and practicalities of teaching two young siblings in my home.

As some of you are aware, for the past 20 + years I’ve taught almost exclusively in pupils’ homes, and I’m now transitioning to teaching from home. When I’ve taught young siblings in their own home, one child just does something in another room while I’m teaching the other, and the parents keep them occupied.

Now I’m teaching more from home, I’ve had some children whose parents sit in on the lesson for the whole lesson and this is fine. But I’m not entirely sure how it will work out if the parent brings two siblings to have lessons? Wouldn’t the child who is waiting get bored and restless? Should I tell the parent to bring the two siblings at two different times? With new very young pupils (i.e aged 4 or 5) I would prefer the parent to sit in on the first few lessons, rather than drop one child off to me, come back to collect that child and drop the other one off.

I ask because I have just had an enquiry from a parent who wants two young children (4 and 5) to have lessons with me. I’m happy to teach that age as I have done many times over the years, just not sure about the logistics now that I’ve completely changed my teaching setup. I always teach individual lessons. Would it be better just to teach them as a pair? Sorry if I’m missing something obvious. I’ve got used to doing things a certain way because I’ve done almost nothing but home visits for my entire career as a piano teacher.
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#2 maggiemay

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 09:14

Yes, I would probably consider giving these two a shared lesson to start with.  But at some stage, if they make a good start, they will almost certainly need their own times, and I would want to regard it as an evolving and flexible arrangement for the first term or two - maybe longer.

 

Parent would need to be on board with this of course and see that what works to begin with may well not work so well in 3 or 6 months’ time.  If they work well together and keep more or less abreast, it could work for longer, and if it ain’t broke ....... ! But if one forges ahead you may need a bit more space in your timetable. 

 

If / when they have individual lessons, it should be possible for Parent (if they still wish to sit in) to bring a couple of quiet activities to keep one child occupied. In any case, working one-to-one,  I would normally give a child of this age only 20 minutes to start with, building up as needed. If it turns out at some stage that they are both left for the whole of two lessons (not ideal at this age) I would either use easy theory books alongside for the child who’s waiting, or ask for them to bring drawing or sticker books or similar. 

 

To some extent, it will depend on family dynamics, parental support and understanding, and not least, how far they have to travel. Just a few thoughts here - hope it works out well for you. 


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#3 Norway

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 09:15

I'd teach each child individually and the parent looks after the other child in another room.


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#4 violinlove

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 09:36

To begin with I'd have the parent sit in with both for the whole time and suggest they bring something for the waiting child to do quietly - eg. colouring in or something like that. How long is each lesson going to be? I have a maximum of 20 minutes for children of that age and it includes activities away from the instrument - games etc. You could play the games, rhythmical activities altogether and then each child has some time on their own while the other waits.

Once you get to the stage where the parent leaves during the lesson you will have a better idea of what these particular children are like. I've had sibling pairs in the past (and one pair of neighbours) and I've had some who were dropped off together and left for the whole time and others where the first was dropped off and then the second brought back half an hour later.

If the children are sensible and can concentrate they should be able to sit quietly and get on with something on their own - easy music theory worksheets, drawing, reading, puzzles etc. If they aren't able to do this then it would be better if they could come individually or you'd find the waiting child a bit of a nuisance during the lesson.

I wouldn't want a parent sitting with a child in another room in my house so that would be out of the question for me.


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#5 ten left thumbs

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 13:01

I think it really depends on how they get on. Some siblings are great together, and you can do activities that work, e.g. one claps the rhythm while one claps the pulse, etc. Some get competitive or try to show off for each other and just need to be separated. Parents love it when it works, because it means they don't need the hassle of bringing one, then bringing the other. So I make a point of not promising it will work, but saying I'll meet them first and see how it goes.

 

i have been stung with situations in the past where I'm expected to teach two together and it's just impossible. The parent then refuse any other arrangement, and lessons stop. 


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#6 maggiemay

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 13:14

I think it really depends on how they get on. Some siblings are great together, and you can do activities that work, e.g. one claps the rhythm while one claps the pulse, etc. Some get competitive or try to show off for each other and just need to be separated. Parents love it when it works, because it means they don't need the hassle of bringing one, then bringing the other. So I make a point of not promising it will work, but saying I'll meet them first and see how it goes.

 

i have been stung with situations in the past where I'm expected to teach two together and it's just impossible. The parent then refuse any other arrangement, and lessons stop. 

Absolutely  - I agree, and hence my comments in an earlier thread about getting parents on board, and establishing that it’s an evolving plan at the outset!  


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#7 Banjogirl

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 18:15

Mine used to have back to back lessons. I just did something with the one not in the lesson. I would never have expected the teacher to accommodate us. Not would I have wanted the boys to share a lesson.
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#8 Banjogirl

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 18:16

We've just sat in the car outside plenty of times.
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#9 tangoallegro

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 18:32

In my experience it has worked better if the parent takes the other child away and then returns. I found it very distracting to have the parent and child talking or moving around whilst I was conducting a lesson.  I don’t allow students access to other rooms other than the teaching room and toilet. 

 

I once let a child use my bathroom whilst teaching their sibling (parent used to leave both children and then return) - I only realised after the lesson that the child had urinated all over my bathroom and had been through all of my upstairs rooms. Grim. 


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#10 jenny

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 20:02

I have several pairs of siblings and I would say that sometimes it works okay to have them both in the room, but it will always depend on how they get on together. I have two brothers who are happy to come in together and one sits on the sofa and reads while the other is having his lesson. But I started teaching two sisters earlier in the year and although they're not that young (9 and 11) it was clear that if they were both in my piano room together, they were a distraction for each other. I suggested to their mum that they come in separately and now one waits in the car while the other one has her lesson.  


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#11 RPassacaglia

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 12:10

Thanks for all the replies and practical advice.
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#12 thara96

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 13:08

My sister (6) and I both do music theory. The teacher comes to my flat. My sister has her lesson after I have finished. I have my lesson first whilst she relaxes in another room then it is her turn. 


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#13 Aquarelle

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 14:54

 I very much agree with what maggiemay has said. My own experience of teaching younger children  is that paired lessons can work very well. I've always been very flexible - occasionally not doing a paired lesson but giving each child half the time individually. It does need to be flexible.and parents need to understand that. If you do find yourself having to make one child wait and if you have the possibility to do this in your home then I would be adamant that they bring a quiet activity to do while waiting. I teach several large families and have siblings back to back but as I use school premises it isn't a problem. They just wait in the next door classroom and in my T and C's there is a clause about children waiting not touching anything that belongs to the school. I do also have a supply of scrap paper and coloured pencils in case they forget to bring something.(Quite often the little monsters argue over who is to come in first - usually because one has forgotten to do the week's theory and wants the time to do it!)


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