Monday Mailbag – Parents in Lessons

How do you get parents OUT of the lessons?  I have just 2 out of 22 where the parents stay, but I would love for them to let their kids do this on their own.  One little girl is an only child and very doted on, the other is a 5 year old boy whose mom comes with 2 younger siblings!  I put out a few books or quiet toys but really I am done with this situation.

This is an interesting question. Honestly, I love it when parents attend lessons with their children. I have a few that sit in on every lesson, a few that sit in periodically, and the rest sit in rarely. When the parents do sit in, I typically try to interact with them during the lesson – perhaps point out something that their child is doing really well, or highlighting an area that we’re working on, etc. My philosophy is that the more involved and supportive the parents are, the better. In fact, for young beginning students who can’t yet read their own assignments, I require a parent to attend the lesson and take notes so that they can oversee the practice at home.

Now…all that said, if I was experiencing a situation where the child seemed to be less responsive or where the lesson time was unproductive due to distractions or a parent being in the room, I would probably approach it something like this: “After working with Sarah for 3 months, I’ve noticed that she seems to be more of an aural learner. Because of this, it’s distracting to have other people and noises in the room during her lesson time. I’m wondering if we could try just doing one-on-one lessons for a few weeks and evaluate to see how it impacts her progress.” Or even something like, “I’ve noticed that the students who come to lessons on their own seem to have an easier time focusing and opening up during the lesson time. Maybe we could try having you drop Logan off and come to lessons on his own for a few weeks…” Regardless of how it’s worded, it’s important to convey that you are trying to do what you feel will be best for the progress and education of their child. At the same time, you also want to let the parent know how much you appreciate their support and the investment they are making in their child. That’s invaluable!

Those are a few thoughts, but I’m sure some other teachers have good ideas for dealing with this type of a situation. Have you had difficulties with parents sitting in on lessons? How do you recommend handling it?

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

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