Top 10 Tools for Parents

Top 10 Tools for Parents

helping kids with
music practice, homework, or home learning
(inspired by the Suzuki Method)

Parents, please keep this in mind:
One or two new tools may be plenty to play around with for a week or more!

Avoid forcing too many new tools at once, which can feel overwhelming and discouraging. Instead, encourage yourself by going slowly and celebrating each little step you take!

  • Tool #1 Nurture your relationship with your child first and always.
    Kindness, kindness, kindness. To help your child learn best, you have to woo them. Your delight in your child is your magic key to unlocking their trust in you. Growing your loving bond with your child will strongly benefit their learning, as well as their happiness and success throughout life.

  • Tool #2 Know deeply that every child has great potential for learning in any area. 
    You have to find a way to reach them. Each child learns very differently—at their own pace, and in their own way. Go at your child’s pace (even if it is very slow) and seek out the ways they learn best. Remember, Einstein was a slow learner as a child.

Parents, here’s an easy way to use the “top 10 tools”: 
Before schoolwork, music practice, or any type of learning with your child, just take a minute to read through the 10 tools. Then, go about your normal work together. 

Sometimes after reading through the tools for a few days, a tool might just pop up in your mind while you’re working with your child. If this happens, you can have a little private celebration—it’s a sign that you’re on the right track.

  • Tool #3 Acknowledge your child’s hardest emotions with compassion and understanding.
    We’ve all gotten frustrated with learning sometimes. When your child feels frustrations and anger, show them patience and understanding. This will help them learn to give themselves patience and understanding. Slowly, they’ll grow the ability to self-regulate, and to stick with the hard stuff.

  • Tool #4 Treat your child with great respect.
    If you forget and act disrespectfully towards your child, apologize to them.

Parents, here are two reasons why apologizing can be a wonderful gift to your child:

1) By apologizing, you’re showing by example that “it’s OK to make mistakes.” Fear of making mistakes can become a learning barrier for a child.

2) Apologizing can help you repair your relationship with your child (Tool #2) and restore their sense of unconditional love from you, which is essential for their learning.

  • Tool #5 Adopt a large dose of self-compassion.
    Helping your child with learning won’t always be clear-cut, because each child learns differently. Allow yourself plenty of room for your own learning, which will include mistakes and course correction along the way. Also, allow yourself room to celebrate the many little victories that nobody else notices but you!

Parents, as you try out new tools with your child:
Please remember to give yourself lots self-compassion (Tool #5) along the way! 

  • Tool #6 Nourish your child with 4 different types of learning:

    1. mental (mind)
    2. physical (body)
    3. emotional (heart)
    4. inspirational (soul)

    Nourishment in these 4 areas will help your child learn more deeply than in traditional learning, which often focuses on the mental. Of mind, body, heart and soul—each child and each parent may have one or two of these 4 areas that is strongest for them. Each may also have an area or two that is more difficult to access. Keep balancing all 4—mind, body, heart, and soul—and keep in mind that your comfortable area may be different than your child’s.

  • Tool #7 Tell your child empowering stories about practice (and avoid the common disempowering stories about overnight success or effortless, inborn talent). Lift up the concept of practice by experimenting with how you speak about it. Practice is practically magic!: Take a skill you really want—but can’t do—and after learning and forgetting it many times…for a long time…miraculously, the skill gets easier! Show your child this: Sure, it’s fun when a new skill comes quickly, but it’s honorable, admirable, valuable, powerful and wonderful to practice a skill that’s not yet easy. 

Parents, the word “yet” can be very helpful! When your child says they “can’t” do something, gently let them know that it’s simply something that they can’t do yet. Then, encourage them to keep practicing it a little each day, and one day soon it will get easier.

  • Tool #8 Aim for both excellence and compassion—but lean toward compassion.
    Children learn best when they feel warmly bathed in love, acceptance, and patience. They learn more easily when they feel from you that they are “enough,” regardless of their performance, when they are reassured that you love them no matter what, and when they sense that you aren’t in a rush for them to grow. Show them that you will stay loving when they are doing hard things. From this loving place, the game of “aiming for excellence” can be nurtured.

  • Tool #9 Supercharge your child’s environment.
    It’s your “ace in the hole,” and in some ways it’s your child’s best learning tool. The environment affects your child when you aren’t even in the room!

Parents, environment is a BIG one!
Many parents unrealistically expect the teacher to provide most or all of the motivation for a child’s home learning. This isn’t realistic for the simple fact that the teacher isn’t often there during home learning!

The child’s environment—the equipment, the people, the sounds, videos, visuals, quiet spots, etc, etc, etcis an amazing tool which can hugely support your child! Should you spend the extra $10 on a PURPLE music stand? Definitelyif the purple one increases your child’s enthusiasm for practice, get the purple one!

  • Tool #10 Cultivate social experiences that excite and ignite your child’s learning.
    This is one of the best environmental elements you can provide. Kids love to learn from each other! As you cultivate social experiences around learning, notice which ones light up your child.

Parents, as you notice a new tool bringing happy results for your child:
Gently notice how your old habits will try to creep in again and again.

If you notice any less-than-useful habits returning, simply and gently switch again to the new tool, being kind to yourself about it.

Do this again and again, as a practice—gently notice an old habit, then switch to the desired tool. After learning and forgetting a tool many times, it will eventually become a habit for you.

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