Reluctance to Come to Class

Is your child ever reluctant to come to class, even though they walk out joyful and full of enthusiasm when it's over? This is a common problem, and I can help. The first step is to let me know what's happening! I will discuss the situation with you, and, if appropriate, offer to talk to your child at the end of class.

What I will say is: "Are you glad you came to class today?" There is usually a positive, and enthusiastic answer to this question. I let them know that I've heard about their difficulties coming to class, and I ask them what's going on. After discussing their response, I tell them that I know that it is hard to change gears sometimes- to get up and do something different, especially after school, or on Saturday morning. I share my own reluctance to go swimming, an activity which I enjoy 3 times a week. I tell them that my child (within!) says the water is too cold, I'm too tired, I hate this. As soon as I start, I feel wonderful. Then, I share something that is always surprising to them: "Your parents do not have to make you come to class. As a matter of fact, there are so many things we parents have to insist on, that, if you continue to make it hard, your parents will probably make you stop class." This is something that children have usually not thought out, and it is very powerful to them especially when it comes from someone outside their family! At the end, I suggest that, it is all right to share your feelings, as long as you act appropriately. I set up a signal with the child so they can let me know how easy or hard it is to come to class for the next few weeks. I suggest that, on really tough days, they whisper, "I really didn't want to come today", into my ear as soon as they walk in.

This approach is highly successful. In 20 years of teaching, I can think of only a handful of children who continued to behave poorly, before coming to class, after talking about the problem. Some children still need to share that it was hard to come for a while, but within a month, this usually eases off, and they are as enthusiastic as ever about coming to class.

There is a related problem for some students at the beginning of the year. After the summer break, they are reluctant to start the next year. They may say that they have already "done" music, and don't need more. I always suggest that the child try class for 4- 6 weeks before making a decision. My "reluctant" students always find their enthusiasm within the first month of lessons! I believe this reluctance at the beginning of the year has two roots: 1)The student has forgotten how much joy and high energy they have in class. 2)It is hard for a child to realize that each year's curriculum is very different. They can't imagine the new activities until they are actively involved. Once again, let me know what's happening! I can help ease the situation when I know what's going on.