Decades away from my childhood, I recently encountered some experiences, events, and resources that sparked memories of what it’s like to be a kid. I’ve been taken back to those feelings of curiosity, insecurity, excitement and anxiety cast in the mindset of a kid. Mmm…as an adult I still have those same feelings–when does that change? Regardless, sometimes it really is important to take the time to feel like a kid again. It may just kick start your approach to lesson time and help you understand the little human looking up to you for guidance.
What triggered these memories and feelings? Not a trip to the fountain of youth or a special vitamin; rather, these four things:
#1 Online Workshop
Have You Forgotten What It’s Like to Be a Child is a recently released online workshop produced by Wendy Stevens of ComposeCreate.com. In her unique perspective as a mom, teacher, and composer, Wendy offers:
- The 5 characteristics of childhood that we forget
- Scores of practical ways to apply this knowledge to help our students leave every single lesson feeling excited and competent
- Secrets to composing effective elementary piano music that Wendy uses as a composer.
I enjoyed watching her uncover the psyche of a child and how
- That influences her composing
- It can enhance your teaching
- It helps you engage in activities that connect with those who like to wiggle while warming your bench or chair.
#2 Online Group Lessons
Signing up for lessons in something that you are not proficient will immediately help you recount those feelings of sitting in the hot seat as a child! I’ve taken online improvisation lessons with Bradley Sowash for a couple of years.
Being forced to reckon with new ways of playing my favorite instrument away from the page was humbling and exhilarating at the same time. What’s even better is that Bradley is now teaching online group lessons. This allows many of us read-only players to observe each other learn and expand our improvisational skills in a supportive, interactive environment.
I can’t tell you how many have exclaimed with child-like enthusiasm as they explore their creative side: “This is SO fun!”
#3 A Book
On one of my Pinterest excursions (I limit myself to one, maybe two per week!) I pinned 13 Non-Professional Books that Have Made Us Better Teachers. I immediately went to my Amazon account and placed them all in my cart. The first one to arrive at my door was Wonder by R.J.Palacio.
A book usually doesn’t bring me to tears but this one did more than once and even on an airplane! A few tears of sorrow, but more of the uninhibited sort. Tears that sprang up from my soul. Does that make sense?
Wonder is one book NOT to miss as it is told through the lens of a 5th-grader with….well, you’ll find out.
Go now and get it. Here’s a link.
#4 An App
I’ve always been a fan of apps but it really hit me how much impact they can have on a kid. A beginning piano student eagerly explained to me with confidence the name and duration of a half note. I had explored the concept with her at lessons and then assigned her to review the note value with the app called Rhythm Swing. The app offers three modes for each note value:
- Learn (a video explains the concept)
- Practice (offers the child instruction on how to use the app to master the concept)
- Play (invites the child to master the concept by playing the correct rhythm and thus saving the cute monkey from the alligator.)
What I noticed is that reaching this child in a context of structured instruction with gamification (a fancy word for learning through game playing) led her to a clear understanding of half notes. I’ve sensed it for years but it was made even more clear to me that…
Clever apps that combine fun with learning connect with kids.
You can learn more about how I integrate Rhythm Swing and additional apps into my teaching here.
Is is time for you to feel like a kid again? If not now, make some room on your calendar and try out one or all four of these suggestions. Your students will thank you.