I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year. The weather is (finally!) warming up, the birds are chirping, everyone’s in a good mood, I don’t have to wrestle my daughter into a million layers of clothing before leaving the house, we all have more energy, and thanks to a beautiful thing called ‘fresh air’, we’re all sleeping like champs at night.
It’s pretty amazing.
And while I have every intention of spending as much time as outdoors for the remainder of the spring and summer so I don’t have any regrets once the miserable cold weather returns, I’ve been feeling kind of guilty that I’ve been letting certain things slip.
I’m letting my daughter eat far too many meals in front of the TV.
We’ve been neglecting our ‘prepare for kindergarten’ workbooks.
Bedtime is getting later and later.
And we’re not doing a great job of keeping up with our music homework, which makes me nervous since our lessons at Yamaha Music School will be finishing for the summer next month.
(Where does the time go?)
Of course, my husband sees nothing wrong with any of this. He thinks we should just embrace spring and summer and worry about getting back to routine when our daughter starts kindergarten in the fall. And while I really (really!) love his way of thinking, and have no issue with picnic dinners in the living room and late bedtimes, I do feel the need to set a good example and keep up the educational stuff we’ve worked so hard on all year.
So I’ve been brainstorming ideas on how keep kids excited about music practice during the summer, and since I know I’m not the only parent out there trying to find ways to keep my child interested in practicing the piano when she’d much rather be running through the splash pad, I thought it might help if I shared my ideas.
1. DON’T DEVIATE FROM ROUTINE
While it can be tempting to spend the entire afternoon in the backyard rather than enduring 30+ minutes of your kids whining and complaining while simultaneously pounding on the ivories of your grand piano, experience has proven to me that it only takes 3 days to break a habit, and once we do that, it’s even harder to get back on track. So while I may let my daughter skip a practice here and there, I try my hardest not to deviate from our routine too much so that she knows it’s non-negotiable.
2. KEEP IT MANAGEABLE
If your kids are finding it really hard to sit still for extended periods of time during the summer months, try cutting practice times down by 10 minutes and/or splitting them into 2 sessions. Another option is to take your instruments outside!
3. USE REWARDS…CAREFULLY
I never wanted to be the kind of parent who rewards her child for doing things that are expected of her, but over the last couple of years, I’ve learned the art of using rewards subtly. For example, if I plan on taking my daughter to do something extra fun after lunch, I might say, ‘hey, do you feel like going to the science center after you’re finished practicing the piano?’ or, ‘what do you feel like doing after you practice the piano this afternoon?’ This way, I’ve let her know we’re practicing the piano no matter what, but she’s motivated to do it sooner than later so we can go out and spend some mom-and-me time together.
4. ARRANGE A MUSIC PLAYDATE!
If the weather is too rainy to go to the park, why not arrange to have some of the kids from your child’s music class over for a music playdate? It’s a great way to get kids excited about music practice, and with a couple of other moms hanging out in your kitchen, it gives you a little adult time, too!
5. MAKE IT A GAME
My daughter has a great imagination and loves playing ‘hospital’ and ‘school’ with her toys after lunch, and since we’ve had to miss a few lessons lately due to travel plans and birthday parties, we’ve started playing ‘music’ on Sunday mornings. It’s a fun little family activity we do together, and Kermit, Cookie, Big Bird, and Elmo are FABULOUS students!
What are YOUR tips for keeping kids excited about music practice during the summer??
I am part of the Yamaha Ambassador Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.