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Toilet trouble!

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#1 hammer action

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Posted 22 June 2022 - 22:18

I teach a little 6 year old girl who tells me she needs to use the toilet during almost every lesson, towards the end.  I always ask if she can wait 5 minutes and she always tells me that she can't.  


I've spotted a pattern though.  She's a very 'young' 6 year old who I've taught for just under a year, and to keep her interested I have to do lots and lots of 'fun' activities in each lesson.  She loves using colour pens to draw notes on staves, clapping games, using a little bit of iPad for music-related activities, rhythm games with the metronome, making up tunes on piano with black keys, singing, listening to me play, asking questions etc.  When we move back over to the piano to learn tunes from the book, that's when not long after, she will ask for the toilet.  I really try and make the lesson as fun as possible, but the issue seems to be with learning piano.  She talks non-stop to me and wants to ask lots of questions when we are at the piano, which I'm pretty sure is a distraction tactic as she knows it's near the end of the lesson.  She knows to ask questions at the end, but still tries really hard to ask and will say she's not sure what note to start on or which finger number, when I know she does.


A few weeks ago we were running a bit late so I crammed 30 minutes worth of lesson into 20 minutes and had her doing loads of different things non-stop and there was no request for a toilet visit.


Her dad brings her to lessons and is aware of this.  My toilet is utterly boring; just a small box room with a toilet and sink, so there's nothing 'exciting' in it for a young person to see.  We've tried the 'go to the toilet before the lesson' tactic but that doesn't prevent it.


Also, I'm pretty certain she isn't actually using the toilet because the water tank is above my room and can be heard filling up once the toilet is flushed, and I don't hear this.


Do I just go along with it for now as she'll maybe grow out of it?  Is it a sign though that she's perhaps not enjoying piano but enjoying all the other activities we do?


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#2 Piano Meg

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Posted 23 June 2022 - 08:41

Have you tried starting off with learning tunes from the book, and if so, did the same thing happen? I wonder if it's the reading that she's avoiding (quite probably), or going home (if she enjoys the 1 to 1 attention of a lovely teacher!).

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#3 ma non troppo

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Posted 23 June 2022 - 10:10

Does the parent stay in the lesson or at least hover? For children this age I insist on the parent being present, at least until they settle in the lessons, and it doesn't sound like this child has. I'd be firm, tell them that they can use the loo at the beginning of the lesson but then they will have to hold on until the end of it if they want to go again - but this can only be done and enforced if the parent is present, and of course pre supposing that there is no medical condition that genuinely requires frequent toilet visits. Would the child be allowed to hide in the toilet during school lessons when something was difficult?
You are already doing the right thing shaking activities up into small chunks.
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#4 Cyrilla



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Posted 23 June 2022 - 22:14

It sounds as if it is the reading that is causing her difficulty - yes, what you describe are classic distraction tactics.


She is still very young to be getting to grips with stave reading (yes, I know some children can learn this earlier, just as three year-olds can read words fluently, but this is not the norm).


Have you tried Kod├íly musicianship with her?   Writing things in stick notation is much easier for children and then it's easily transferable to the stave.



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