Problem with a parent - Advice please

Posted by: BrizzyGrace

Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/05/09 05:27 PM

Hi,

I have a problem with a parent and I am hoping that you may be able to help me handle this in an appropriate manner.

I have a mother, who questions my teaching and picks me up on minor things just about every week.(One example - I was chastised about writing in the "wrong place" in the homework book. I accidentally did not write on the very next clean page.)

She is also heavily involved with the children's practicing, and, on occasion, has the children (there are two) working ahead in the book and doing what she thinks they should be doing and not what I have asked that they do.

This constant scrutiny is really getting to me and slowly eroding away my confidence.

I am a mature-age student teacher (teaching under supervision - still studying with an excellent teacher).

This parent knows of my student status and I am wondering if this is influencing their behaviour towards me?

I really enjoy teaching the children and they are coming along nicely, however this parent is really getting under my skin and I can feel the flutters of anxiety starting, days before they come for their lesson.

I put a lot into my teaching and I take it very seriously. My parents sit in on the lessons and this is non-negotiable (as per my request).

All suggestions gratefully received,

Best,
Grace
Posted by: Stanny

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/05/09 05:52 PM

I'm sure your student teacher status has something to do with it. Have you discussed this with your own teacher? This is definitely unacceptable in my eyes.
Posted by: Ebony and Ivory

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/05/09 06:06 PM

Originally Posted By: BrizzyGrace
I put a lot into my teaching and I take it very seriously. My parents sit in on the lessons and this is non-negotiable (as per my request)


I'm sure you do take it seriously, and I have no doubt that this parent is making you feel less than adequate. I have been teaching since 1994, and still run into parents that seem to like to *try* to make me feel inadequate.

Sorry to say it, but here goes. I used to have that policy too. I used to have those problems with some parents too. I have since changed it to "you are welcome to observe once a month or so" and almost all those problems have gone away.

I know it seems helpful to have parents there, but there are usually more problems than not with this situation. Since I have changed my policy, the kids are more confident (no more looking over their shoulder to see if mom is "happy", even the tears stopped with the little ones, and there are none of the very, very quiet tsk-tsk's from mom).

Sorry to be the bearer of "bad news", but I do recommend that you revise that policy for your own good. This is not intended to be bossy, just experience from an "old timer" lol.

Posted by: lilylady

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/05/09 06:15 PM

It sounds like you are on your way to becoming a very conscientious teacher.

I am happy to hear that you are doing your teaching under the supervision of your teacher. S/he should be able to help you solve problems like this and possibly act as a go between if you are teaching in his/her studio.

But since you have asked us for some advice...I'll share some thoughts.

You are in charge. Remember that.

It is rather a stupid comment about where you write the lessons. Mom is trying to pull the apron strings and CONTROL you at the same time.

I think I would have ripped out the offending blank pages had that comment been made to me! There, says I...it is now on the next blank page. smokin

I would also, as soon as possible, suggest that the teacher/student relationship be reinforced with no parent involved during the lesson.

As for going ahead in a book...how about supplying a supplimentary book where the student / momandstudent can have something to learn on their own without venturing forth in the teaching books?

I hope that you can work this out. It sounds like you are becoming a very good teacher!
Posted by: pianogal37

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/05/09 06:17 PM

Hi Grace,
It's nice to see that you insist on parents sitting in on the session. I had been involved in my son's group music lessons when he was 4-6, then when I transitioned him into private lessons at 6, the teacher asked me not to be in the room while she was teaching (my six year old!) (I am not a problem parent). We had to communicate via a notebook, and she would mark the pages he was to practice. This frustrated me as I was working with him throughout the week and had no idea how she was teaching him as I had to wait in the waiting room during the lesson. After 6 months I pulled him out of lessons at his request, and am teaching him myself. Soon he's going to need a piano teacher, though, because I don't want him to learn my bad habits!

Maybe you need to re-adjust your policy regarding parents to a case-by-case basis in terms of what is best for a positive experience, for you and the student. Don't kick all parents out though! Some of us like to be involved. smile
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/05/09 06:28 PM

Some of us are comfortable with parents sitting in, others are not. For me, I like it, because the parent knows exactly what we've covered.

When parents verbiage borders on the "out of bounds" area, I make a general comment, usually beginning with a "shhhh" and followed by (depending on parent) "No more comments from the peanut gallery, please" to "We need to give student some time to think about the answer (or whatever). They're on the hot seat and that often causes students to pause a bit." And always with a big smile.

If the parent persists, I add, "There'll be a test for both students in the room."
Posted by: victor kam

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/05/09 08:50 PM

As for the pieces the mom went ahead and work with the child, in a way it is good to be ahead. But if you feel that is not comfortable for you, I would suggest assigning MORE pieces, perhaps instead of 4, make it 7 pieces. That way, you can gauge how much more the student can actually take with full supervision at home. Sooner or later, the mom won't likely be adding any more than what the child can handle.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/06/09 02:06 AM

Grace:

Age has some factor as well. Since I'm (quite a bit) younger than the parents of my students, I have experienced some "talking down." The worst offenders are the helicopter moms who think they know how to teach, and they try to tell me to teach this and that.

Not surprisingly, the younger parents (those who are closer to my age) tend to be more on the same wavelength as I am.

Just try to be more assertive. Draw boundaries. Don't let the parent cross the line without repercussions.
Posted by: Candywoman

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/06/09 02:23 AM

A quick "Shhhhh" works wonders because parents dislike being corrected in front of their children.

You could phone this particular parent and state the following: "Sometimes, I feel you don't trust my ability as a piano teacher. Is that the case?" Pause at this point. Bite your tongue. Count to thirty. Leave it entirely up to the parent to respond.

But really, you've got to get the parent out of the lesson. Sorry to pianogal37, who disagrees with me now. But once you put your child in lessons with the next teacher, you may be in a better position to let go, and leave the responsibility of learning in your child's hands.
Posted by: BrizzyGrace

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/06/09 02:47 AM

Thank you to everyone that replied.

I really appreciate it very much. I have taken into consideration everything that has been said here and have made a few decisions.

The first one is to call my parent and speak to her in a kind and thoughtful manner. I will be interested to hear what she has to say.

The second decision is to change my studio around, so that my parents are not in the same room, but they can still easily see the piano and their child.

I will take on-board the more experienced teacher's opinions here, and I feel that it would be for the best. I will do this during the Christmas holidays, as it will take a bit of re-arranging. I will offer the parents the choice to sit in every 4-6 weeks or so as was suggested earlier.

I am meeting with my supervising teacher in 6 days time and we shall speak about this further.

It is such a comfort to be able to come here and speak freely and know that you are understood. I thank you all once again.

Best,
Grace
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/06/09 03:10 AM

I had to take piano pedagogy courses to complete my degree requirements... my student was difficult, never came prepared, and her parents were clueless. Her dad even thought that I was a telemarketer when I called to schedule a makeup lesson (because they blew off a lesson) and he hung up on me. In my case, I just ignored the parents' behavior. In this case, I'd probably call her out on it because it's disrespectful to your time, but that may be an unwise career move. Talk to your teacher.
Posted by: Lollipop

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/06/09 08:06 AM

No matter how long you teach, there will always be a parent or two who knows how to push your buttons. Learning how to speak directly is a great skill. I don't think it will be ongoing once you confront it. She does it because she can.
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/06/09 08:31 AM

There's a show with a dog trainer - actually a dog behavioral specialist - called "The Dog Whisperer." He always says you have to set "boundaries, and limitations."

Those were the first words that came to my mind while reading this thread.

I think you teachers need a "Parent Whisperer."
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/06/09 09:10 AM

Hi Grace,

You've read advice here from one side of the spectrum to the other. Some teachers keep the parents out of the picture almost entirely and others insist on their presence while dealing with the 'problem ones' individually. You'll continue to refine your approach as you gain more experience and more insight into your own developing style.

For me as a parent of a younger one, I would not choose a teacher that used hard and fast rules applied to every situation. A teacher who would not use me as a resource in the musical education of my kids is a teacher I would not use and would not recommend to others.
Posted by: Ebony and Ivory

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/06/09 09:18 AM

I should add that these are my "general rules". There are exceptions. I tell parents that they are welcome it sit in the same room once a month or so, they are still sitting within ear shot when they are in the waiting room. So parents that want to help at home (pianodad smile ) still know what we're working on, but there is no worry on the child's part that they are not meeting the parent's standards. These kids know the almost imperceptable sounds that parents make (I'm a parent, I make them too, lol) and most kids react whether they intend to or not.

I have one mom that sits in on every lesson, we have discussed her son's ADHD issues and have agreed that it is best for both student and teacher, in this case, to have her nearby.

The kids can't see them. That makes all the difference in their confidence and maturity levels. I can't tell you how much it has improved things with most kids. This gives them much more ownership of their lesson time, and most kids rise to the challenge.
Posted by: pianogal37

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/06/09 07:27 PM

I would have to respectfully disagree with Candywoman, I don't feel that six year olds are able to take in and process all elements of a half hour lesson to the point that they can remember to practice those techniques throughout the week with no guidance, and a note to the parents saying "Practice pieces A, B, and C" doesn't help at all.
Posted by: Gyro

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/07/09 01:42 PM

I personally don't see any problem
here. The parent is essentially
acting as an unpaid assistant to
you, so you should be grateful for
all of her free help.
Posted by: EDWARDIAN

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/07/09 03:00 PM

Hey Grace -

I suppose I stand in the middle of parent involvement in lessons. I have experienced both extremes - parents who know nothing about music and leave it entirely up to me and those that are breathing down my neck. Most fall somewhere in the middle. When asked if they can sit in on lessons I allow them to, and usually after a couple they leave it up to me. In the case of an ADD/ADHD or autistic child, it is usually preferable that they do sit in.

Only once in my 20+ years of private teaching have I experienced an unbearable parent. Total nut case. I was relieved when she discontinued lessons. Then called some months later thinking I was someone else! lol yippie

I think this person may be a bit like my overbearing parent. Criticizing the notebook page! No! Really?!

Your youth may have something to do with it, but how rude. No excuse for being so condescending to you. You are the teacher. You deserve more respect.

Your solutions sound good. I wish you luck, and hope for your student's sake you can remain as her teacher.

Joan
Posted by: eweiss

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/07/09 03:08 PM

Amazing. On top of not being paid enough, now this. I can only tell you how I would handle it and that would be either to give the kid the boot, or tell the parent to back off.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/07/09 03:28 PM

Originally Posted By: pianogal37
I would have to respectfully disagree with Candywoman, I don't feel that six year olds are able to take in and process all elements of a half hour lesson to the point that they can remember to practice those techniques throughout the week with no guidance, and a note to the parents saying "Practice pieces A, B, and C" doesn't help at all.

The answer is simple. If more is learned with a parent present, observing in lessons and helping at home, I WANT the parent there.

There are very few parents who want to be in the lessons week after week, as the weeks turn into months and the months turn into years. Often the younger students tell their parents that they feel they are ready to work only with me.

In general, the amount of things that my six year-old students can either get wrong, between lessons, or not absorb completely, in lessons, is huge. I weight parental involvement totally on whether or not the parent is helping.

We should be up front and explain that age plays a huge factor, for the teacher. I'm old enough to be the PARENT of most of my "parents". That makes every very different from when I was 20 or 30. If I need to "pull rank" and "gently put a parent in his/her place", I can do that.

I think John mentioned much the same thing. smile
Posted by: Candywoman

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/08/09 03:57 AM

To pianogal37,

A good piano teacher knows how to get the most out of a student during a lesson. In fact, I often review concepts at the end of a lesson to ensure they were understood. But I also go at a pace that allows the student to incorporate new ideas. Plus some learning is cyclical. I may begin a concept one week, and know that it will take six weeks for it to stick. Little by little I approach the same point in different ways until it is understood. Even with Mom helping, ideas take a long time to learn in piano.

If you truly believe that a six year old cannot take in all the elements of a lesson, do you feel the same way about your child's math class? Do you sit in on all of your son's school lessons? At what age do you think you can leave him alone?

Also, your son might listen LESS during the lesson if he knows his Mom will pick up the slack. So you might lose the advantage you think you're gaining.

My heartfelt wish is that parents raise independent children. I find a lot of my teenage students need to be coaxed through every little theory lesson because nobody taught them to rely on themselves. Sure they get 95% or some such mark, but wouldn't it be more of a success if they got 75% relying on their own ability to read and study effectively?

So, in sum, I hope you adopt the sink or swim mentality before your son gets too old. I have 20 year old students who get their Moms to call me when they're sick and fully capable of calling themselves.
Posted by: Candywoman

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/08/09 04:10 AM

Piano Dad,

If you as a parent of younger ones would omit a good teacher who has hard and fast rules about parental attendance, aren't you following a hard and fast rule yourself?

Let's say the best teacher in the city wouldn't accept parents sitting in on every lesson, but only occasionally, as is my policy. Aren't you doing your child a disservice by picking somebody else who will indulge you instead of picking the teacher who is best for your son?
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/08/09 09:28 AM

Quote:
If you truly believe that a six year old cannot take in all the elements of a lesson, do you feel the same way about your child's math class? Do you sit in on all of your son's school lessons? At what age do you think you can leave him alone?


Pardon me for taking up pianogal37's issue, but the child is taught on a daily basis in elementary school. Math class occurs every day for roughly an hour. Little quizzes, classwork sheets and small group exercises assure that any teacher worth his or her salt is aware of every student's current issues. Basic problems do not fester for a week until the next formal 'lesson.' If piano lessons occurred on a daily basis at the hands of a trained professional, the independence from some of the parental micromanagement would be assured. The cost, however, would stagger most families. :-)

More on this issue later ...


Quote:
Also, your son might listen LESS during the lesson if he knows his Mom will pick up the slack. So you might lose the advantage you think you're gaining.


A fair point, but quite speculative.

Actually, I think the more worrying issue is whether the child is attentive to the teacher or is instead always sneaking a glance at mom or dad to see if they approve. A child cannot easily serve two masters well.


Quote:
If you as a parent of younger ones would omit a good teacher who has hard and fast rules about parental attendance, aren't you following a hard and fast rule yourself?


This is what is known as a debater's point. I can match it! There is indeed a chance that a meteorite will crash through my house tonight and kill me. That fact, however, doesn't keep me up at night. Nor does the theoretical possibility of such a heavenly disaster lead me to take any precautions against that risk. To translate this into piano teaching .... yes indeed, there might possibly be God's Gift to Pedagogy out there whose teaching technique would disappear in a puff of ash if a musically inclined parent so much as sat in on one lesson or said one word to their child at home about music. I will forgo the opportunity for my child to work with such a pedagogue if it means I never have to deal with the far more likely situation of a teacher who 'thinks' they are God's gift to teaching when in fact my help would have led to a far better outcome for my child.

Of course, this is all rather moot now. I do NOT sit in on my sixteen year old son's lessons (except at the very end when they're running way overtime!). When I AM in the room, the teacher welcomes me as a participant. My son is NOT intimidated by my presence. We all know who the boss is. It's the Steinway Artist with the undergraduate training at Peabody and the graduate training under Nelita True. She's the boss. But even she is willing to use me as part of the training team. Even she understands that having a parent with a good musical background is a potential opportunity instead of an absolute curse. That's the kind of humility and sensitivity that actually marks a good teacher .... in my opinion. :-)
Posted by: bitWrangler

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/08/09 10:56 AM

As a parent I think Gary D has the most practical view on this, basically that it's taken on a case by case basis. I, like PianoDad, would be completely disinclined to accept a piano teacher that, as an absolute rule, did not allow parents in their lessons. I feel confident in saying that our kids would not have progressed nearly as far, as quickly, and with (hopefully) good practice habits without the direct involvement of us (actually mainly my piano playing wife). In this case the kids piano teacher pretty much demands parent participation and she is generally good at involving both the parents and the student.

To bring another example into the mix, our daughter has started taking jazz piano lessons. Her current lessons are heavily theory oriented, beyond what my wife was taught (she realized long ago just how theory week her piano training was when she was growing up). So during our daughters jazz piano lessons, we are basically passive observers, most of what they are doing going over our heads. So when it comes time to practice, our involvement becomes one more of "someone to bounce ideas off of or to listen and give opinions (and yes, I think that because of our direct involvement in her classical training, she has no problems at all soliciting critique from us). So in this case, our involvement is far more passive (my wife even sits in another room during the lesson to read), though the teacher is more than happy to have us sit in if we feel like it (I like to sit in if I take her to her lesson).

But to each teacher their own. I would that think most teachers are savvy enough to understand that having an iron clad rule against parents sitting in on lessons runs the risk of alienating a certain percentage of families that they often bemoan not having enough of (i.e. families that are committed enough to piano that the parents themselves are willing to sacrifice time during lessons and practice and are therefore less likely to treat piano as a second class citizen), with the advantage of course being that they then will also weed out all the negative scenarios.
Posted by: EDWARDIAN

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/08/09 01:05 PM

"That's the kind of humility and sensitivity that actually marks a good teacher . . . . in my opinion."

In my opinion too! Thank you. heart

Joan
Posted by: pianogal37

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/08/09 01:42 PM

[quote=Candywoman]I may begin a concept one week, and know that it will take six weeks for it to stick.

Candywoman,
Perhaps if the parent was in the room to help the child learn it wouldn't take six weeks.

To respond to your slightly snarky math issue, I do not sit in his math class, nor his extracurricular activities other than piano. I have extensive experience with child development and learning, and I object strongly to your insinuation that my son is not separating and individuating from me at his appropriate developmental level. It is impressive that you can make blanket statements about myself and my son after never having met us. Wow, you really must be almost as amazing as you think you are!
Posted by: keystring

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/08/09 03:39 PM

(Not a reply to anyone in particular)

Different philosophies exist, none of us know the people involved, which are two reasons why I've remained silent. But generally only one view is being expressed when there are at least two. It is suggested that unless a child is pushed, she will lack self-discipline and not be able to face the difficulties in adulthood. Analogies are made to school attendance and eating vegetables. I did not force my kids to eat their veggies, and they only attended school once they chose to do so, which was around gr. 9. Whether by good fortune (read "blessing"), despite their upbringing, or because of it (an hypothesis), there are two vegetable-eating health conscious responsible young adults in this world. None of these dread consequences happened.

The poster has listened to her daughter, kept a promise, and earned trust. That's a big thing, especially when entering the adolescent years.

Candywoman has expressed belief in the student. That's the part that caught my eye. Whether or not a parent is in the room is a different issue. This would have to go with teaching style and other things. I was in the room: it just ended up being that way.

Re: math. In the homeschooling route there is individualized instruction, which in some ways resemble private lessons. Looking back, I did not teach each day. Once a lesson was taught it needed to be internalized through exercises. Even at the age of 5 and 6 the youngsters had the habit of completing their "3 R's" and organizing their time. Learning is active, ideally self-directed and it is a process. The school system is an institution, it is mass education, and many of the devices used there exist to compensate for that. Testing is one such device, quite a flawed one.

The final decision rests on the parent who has her own philosophies, and depends on the child and possible teachers. While I have my own ideas, I would not want to push them on anyone - it's one of several paths. Just want to point out that more than one theory might exist.

Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/08/09 05:53 PM

Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad

Pardon me for taking up pianogal37's issue, but the child is taught on a daily basis in elementary school. Math class occurs every day for roughly an hour. Little quizzes, classwork sheets and small group exercises assure that any teacher worth his or her salt is aware of every student's current issues. Basic problems do not fester for a week until the next formal 'lesson.' If piano lessons occurred on a daily basis at the hands of a trained professional, the independence from some of the parental micromanagement would be assured. The cost, however, would stagger most families. :-)
Daily lessons would also shut down what I think is the most important thing learned: how to study independently.

This happens, finally, in college, officially. This is not to say that it can't be learned ealier, but usually in school kids not only that what they don't get today can be picked up tomorrow, they also learn that passing tests is the goal, no learning.

Piano lessons are often the first time children learn that cramming does not work. Period. And the reviewing what was supposedly learned the day of the last lesson will not be there, in the mind, if practice is delayed until just before the next lessons.

I actually tell parents of young kids: "I am teaching your child, now, to be responsible in a way that normally is reserved for much later in life. If s/he learns this process, it will be a giant advantage in school."

(And it is.)

Now, to expect a 5 or 6 year-old to understand how to work, how to study, how to listen, how to process, with no help from another adult (parent) is something that I don't think works very well. For those parents who DO expect me to do it, alone, who won't take the time to be in lessons and learn what we are doing, the progess is horrendously slow.

So the parent should no longer be in a lesson when there is zero advantage to the parent being there. It's that simple. smile
Posted by: Glen R.

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/08/09 07:39 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Daily lessons would also shut down what I think is the most important thing learned: how to study independently.

This happens, finally, in college, officially. This is not to say that it can't be learned ealier, but usually in school kids not only that what they don't get today can be picked up tomorrow, they also learn that passing tests is the goal, no learning.

Ah, this is so true. I teach high school math, and it is so difficult to convince students that maybe the goal isn't to pass tests. My goals for students (and I really haven't figured out to be successful imparting this) are to learn how to learn, to think critically and logically, to assess their understanding, and create a plan for addressing their difficulties. I would dearly love to create a course in how to learn, and "oh by the way, you'll also be getting credit for grade 12 math."

This post is slightly off topic from piano teaching, but I suspect that at least one thing--learning to assess your understanding of a piece of music--is an essential skill for piano players.

This from a former tuba player to a euphonium player grin
Posted by: Candywoman

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/08/09 07:39 PM

To quote PianoDad: "Basic problems do not fester for a week until the next formal 'lesson'" What problems? If you do a thorough teaching job, the point of practicing beginner melodies for a six year old is to gain facility and awareness of the score. I haven't noticed any problems that festered.

To quote pianogal37: "Perhaps if the parent was in the room to help the child learn it wouldn't take six weeks." It might take seven weeks!!ha ha. But the point here is that the experience of taking piano lessons isn't just about achieving the things that the teacher pointed out. A student needs to experiment with the piano on his own terms, without Mom steering him about. I know the sort of parent that does this thinks they are gaining advantages. But it is the child who needs to fit piano into his general experiences and become his or her own best teacher.

Have you considered calling the first piano teacher and asking her opinion of how things went with your son? She may be able to point out his merits and demerits and suggest your next move. I think a lack of communication is at the root of your problem with the first teacher. Is it possible your son picked up on your discomfort at not being in the lessons?
Posted by: pianogal37

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/08/09 08:02 PM

To respond to Candywoman, I have no concerns regarding how my son is doing at piano now that I am teaching him. He enjoys it much more, and is making excellent progress in both theory and practical.
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/08/09 08:20 PM

Candywoman,

You are free to teach using whatever methods you choose. You are also free to think that every parent who works with their child is a caricature of the 'helicopter parent' that the contemporary popular media so warns us about.

Reasonable parents understand the need to allow children to grow independently. But as keystring tells us, there are many ways to help children develop into healthy and independent adults. And independence is only one virtue. Knowledge and skill acquisition is another.

Lastly, families can walk and chew gum at the same time. A parent can sit in on some lessons or assist at some percentage of the student's home practice time without turning the child into a helpless and indecisive appendage. If you raise 'independence' to the chief and only virtue you can sometimes wind up with a self-indulgent failure who doesn't know what achievement really is. Yes, I know that this is a caricature as well, but it is just as plausible as the failed helicopter child of the pop psychologists on morning TV these days.

I happen to value achievement. (Yes, I'm sure you do too). I also think that rapid achievement is an ally to developing true independence. I'm willing to grant that there may be many paths to that virtue. I'm not willing to accept that the only way to that virtue is for parents who happen to have useful skills to become furniture while their children struggle with complete independence.

As bitWrangler notes, Gary has posted very sensible and practical thoughts:

Quote:
The answer is simple. If more is learned with a parent present, observing in lessons and helping at home, I WANT the parent there.

There are very few parents who want to be in the lessons week after week, as the weeks turn into months and the months turn into years. Often the younger students tell their parents that they feel they are ready to work only with me.

In general, the amount of things that my six year-old students can either get wrong, between lessons, or not absorb completely, in lessons, is huge. I weight parental involvement totally on whether or not the parent is helping.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/08/09 09:44 PM

Originally Posted By: BrizzyGrace
Hi,

I have a problem with a parent and I am hoping that you may be able to help me handle this in an appropriate manner.

I have a mother, who questions my teaching and picks me up on minor things just about every week.(One example - I was chastised about writing in the "wrong place" in the homework book. I accidentally did not write on the very next clean page.)

She is also heavily involved with the children's practicing, and, on occasion, has the children (there are two) working ahead in the book and doing what she thinks they should be doing and not what I have asked that they do.

This constant scrutiny is really getting to me and slowly eroding away my confidence.

I am a mature-age student teacher (teaching under supervision - still studying with an excellent teacher).

This parent knows of my student status and I am wondering if this is influencing their behaviour towards me?

I really enjoy teaching the children and they are coming along nicely, however this parent is really getting under my skin and I can feel the flutters of anxiety starting, days before they come for their lesson.

I put a lot into my teaching and I take it very seriously. My parents sit in on the lessons and this is non-negotiable (as per my request).

All suggestions gratefully received,

Best,
Grace




Sorry I'm a little late to the discussion. I have had families like this in the past. One that I can think of would question a lot of what I taught her daughter. I let the mom know that it undermined me as an authority and prevented the daughter from learning at all, resulting in her wasting her money. If she was paying me to be the teacher, then she has to let me be the teacher.

I think you need to have a good one-on-one with the mom (preferably with no kids present) to let her know this. Don't even mention the pointing out of mistakes specifically, because I hardly think that skipping a blank page is worthy of even mentioning. Really what she is doing is trying to put you down, and looking for anything she can find to do it. Let her know either she trusts in you and your judgment, or she should find another teacher that better suits her needs.
Posted by: jotur

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/09/09 02:23 AM

Glen R -

From a math teacher to a math teacher -

Amen!

Cathy
Posted by: Glen R.

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/09/09 09:57 AM

Originally Posted By: jotur
Glen R -

From a math teacher to a math teacher -

Amen!

Cathy

Hey, another math teacher! Nice to hear another one who agrees with me!
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Problem with a parent - Advice please - 08/09/09 10:26 AM

In response to the idea of parental observation (and I mean observation, not intrusion), I think it depends on the family dynamic. In the past I have had parents that desire to sit in on lessons due to the comfort level of the child. I have allowed this and there were no problems.

However, one boy who was particularly insecure (his mother is a principal at the middle school) insisted that mom was there all the time. I let this go for a while since I wanted him to be comfortable. However, after a while I felt that he needed to learn to be a bit more independent. This boy is in 3rd grade, by the way. So I suggested to mom that she stay for a bit and then go shopping, or leave for a few minutes during the lesson. Eventually he became more comfortable and less insecure in himself. I don't think mom was a helicopter, but I do think that there was a bit too much dependence on her in general with regards to playing piano. He needed to learn some self-reliance, that he could do it himself, even if he made mistakes. He's gotten much better and is less nervous during lessons, although if I don't see him in a while the nerves come back. It's a process, but it has been only done with the cooperation of the mother, both of us being on the same side. Without that, no learning will happen with the child.