Are you worried that your child isn't actually interested enough in their instrument because they don't pick it up on their own throughout the week?
Join the club! You are certainly not alone!
Question for you: if you don't schedule in time to exercise or meet your friends for coffee, do you usually find you're able to fit it in? Or, does scheduling yoga class and lunch dates into your schedule work out better in the end? Yeah, we thought so! It's no different for children. Sure, they are "playing all day", but they also have school, homework, playdates, classes, activities, etc., etc., and it truly can be hard for them to find time to squeeze in practice. They need your help making it a priority!
How can I help my child find time to practice?
Schedule it in! Sit down with your child's calendar and find 5-30 minutes of practice time to schedule in a few times a week. You may find it useful to set a visual timer for each practice session. Start with short practice sessions and work up to longer sessions over time. Please reach out to us for a practice schedule tailored to your child.
We recommend printing out a monthly calendar and hanging it in your child's room. You can draw little instruments or put up some little stickers on the scheduled practice days with the time next to it. Taking time in advance to plan for practicing really helps make it happen. We can set kids up for practice success by giving them all the tools we use for ourselves to fit lots into a day, rather than expecting them to find the time themselves.
How can I help my child stay motivated?
While, of course, we want our children to be motivated on their own to practice, practice is a habit that can take a lot of time to establish! We recommend a star chart system (small stickers on a chart for each practice session) and then let your child have something special (ice cream with you? a little toy?) once the chart has a certain amount of stickers. The best reward system is one with frequent enough rewards to keep your child in the game, but intermittent enough that they stay on their toes always guessing when they'll get a reward next! Star charts don't work for all families, but give it a try and see if it works for you!
What should my child practice?
Your child's teacher should be leaving practice instructions in the Blue Balloon lesson notebook each week. If you feel your child needs more than what's there, please let us know! Running through a couple songs is a great way to start (or even one song a couple of times). 5 minutes of practicing is better than nothing and 5 minutes 5 times a week adds up! Feel free to start with 5 minutes and work up to 10-15 minutes and eventually (in time) 20-30 min. Having a parent or sitter sit with your child for the full practice session can help in many cases, especially for those under 8 years old. It can be challenging to stay organized and make the most of practice time. Your child may need your help and that's okay! Playing the Blue Balloon game together (for kids under 8 or so) can be great for practicing. When it’s your turn, have your child be the teacher who shows you what to do. There is no better way to learn than by teaching :)