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!
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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.