Have you ever gotten an idea and launched right into it, without stopping to think it through? This happened to me just a couple weeks ago.
Because my son will be a senior in high school this fall, one of my goals is to lighten my teaching schedule. I really want enjoy this last year with him before he heads off to college!
It occurred to me that hosting group lessons once a month in lieu of private lessons would be the perfect low-stress solution. Idea planted. Done!
But then I talked with my Upbeat partner, Sara Campbell. The first thing out of her mouth was "Will planning that every month actually be more stressful for you?"
Hmmmm...I hadn't considered that. I was only thinking about "teaching" time.
And then I realized....I hadn't really looked at this from every angle. What I really needed was to STOP everything and do some serious thinking.
Here's the point: When we take time to really think over new ventures BEFORE we dive in, we increase the odds of success.
Are you considering a new venture that involves preschoolers? I hope these questions will help you figure out if it's the right move for you!
1. DO YOU LIKE WORKING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN?
It sounds like an obvious question, but the truth is most people have age preferences. For example: teenagers. Some people LOVE teaching teens - and other teachers will avoid them at all costs!
Take the time to think about what ages YOU like to teach.
Yes, adding preschoolers might be great for your bottom line, but if you don't like this age group, you'll never find the success you're looking for.
2. HOW WILL THIS OFFERING BRING VALUE TO YOUR STUDIO?
Adding preschoolers will help YOU in several ways:
But this option would also benefit your students. Take the time to think about this option from the perspective of your families. How will it help them? What will they gain from preschool lessons?
One thing's for sure - you'll be helping youngsters develop a love of music early in life. That's invaluable!
3. DO YOU HAVE TIME TO INVEST IN A NEW VENTURE?
Starting any new venture is exciting! But there's always a learning curve. Do you have time to research everything?
You'll need to think about:
If reading that list got you excited, then teaching preschoolers is probably a good move for you!
4. HOW WILL YOU ADD THIS OPTION TO YOUR STUDIO?
I'll be honest - when I started teaching preschoolers, I didn't give this question enough consideration. I simply launched into what I was already doing - private lessons.
But there are several options to mull over: private, group, or partner lessons. Each choice has pros and cons. Write those down. Play around with them in your head.
I encourage you to think about what type of lesson YOU would enjoy the most. If YOU'RE happy and having fun, your preschoolers will too!
5. WHAT METHOD WILL YOU USE?
The GOOD news - There are LOTS of methods to choose from.
The BAD news - There are LOTS of methods to choose from.
Seriously though, take the time to do your research and find a method that fits your personality. Ideally, I suggest that you find a couple methods you would feel comfortable teaching.
The truth is that all kids are different. You might find that certain students would benefit from a different method. I know that often happens in my studio with older students. Preschoolers are no different. (See this post for more.)
ARE YOU SAYING YES TO PRESCHOOLERS?
If you decide that preschoolers are right for you, make sure you check out Playing with Preschoolers.
It's on sale for Valentine's Day!
Sara and I interviewed 7 teachers who are having great success with this age group. You'll learn:
Do you have any preschool questions? If so, let me know!
MY FAVORITE PRESCHOOL STORY...
It was an ordinary day at school, but not for my student. I'll call her Katie.
I was walking Katie to her makeup lesson and she was over-the-moon excited! Literally skipping all the way to my room with a BIG smile on her face.
Truthfully, I thought it was a little odd. Katie liked piano, but her excitement was a bit...over the top.
Fast forward 15 minutes and she looked at me with those big beautiful eyes and asked "When is my makeup class going to start?"
I was confused. "This IS your makeup class."
Then she reached up and patted her cheek "No, my MAKEUP class."
Oh my! Katie thought we were putting on makeup! Isn't that the cutest thing? And yes, her mother did give me permission to pull out the cosmetics the following week. To this day, thinking about it all still makes me smile!
Here's the point - preschoolers have a different mindset. They DON'T always think the way we expect them to. If we want to teach them successfully, we need to change the way we think.
If I could start over with this age group, here are 4 things that I'd do differently:
1. I SHOULD HAVE RESEARCHED MORE.
There are plenty of teachers who are successfully teaching preschoolers. I wish I'd spent more time learning from them first.
Sure I researched different curriculum, but there was a lot more I could have done to prepare. I wish I had asked teachers about:
To be honest, this is the very reason that Sara and I created Playing with Preschoolers. Hearing what worked for different teachers was a game-changer for me!
2. I SHOULD HAVE ADJUSTED MY MINDSET.
Don't judge me, but I went into preschool lessons thinking I'd teach piano at a slower pace. It honestly sounds dumb now, but I really didn't think that teaching preschoolers would be that different from my other elementary students.
Boy was I wrong. I needed a different mindset in many areas. Especially the idea of "piano lessons" verses "music lessons."
That alone would have helped my attitude AND my success.
3. I SHOULD HAVE CONSIDERED ALL MY OPTIONS.
First off, whether you teach preschoolers in private lessons, group lessons, or partner lessons - there is no WRONG answer. It's completely a personal preference.
My problem was that I defaulted to private lessons without really considering my options. The rest of my studio is private lessons, why would I do anything different?
That thinking was a mistake.
Again, I should have researched more. In hindsight, I would have chosen partner lessons. But of course, if you're looking to UP your income, a larger class might be the right choice for you.
Whatever you decide, the important thing is to give serious consideration to ALL the options.
4. I SHOULD HAVE CHOSEN TWO METHODS.
This was by far my biggest mistake: I decided on ONE curriculum, expecting it to work for ALL my students. When it didn't work for each student, I was left feeling frustrated and stressed out.
I'm not sure why I didn't consider this earlier. With my older students, I use different methods, depending on the child. I TOTALLY should have done this with preschoolers. Epic fail on my part.
Of course, if you're teaching to a full class, your program will obviously be geared toward a larger group.
But if you're planning on private or partner lessons, go ahead and find a couple methods that you like. Then you'll be ready to go to Plan B at a moment's notice!
NEED HELP GETTING ORGANIZED?
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Hi there! I'm Tracy Selle. A Christian wife, mom, and author of 101 Piano Practice Tips. I'm also a piano teacher and founder of Upbeat Piano Teachers.