I have learned a valuable lesson with regards to helping young children learn to play the piano: practice with them, every day. I had not planned on this before they started taking piano lessons. Our after-school hours are now filled with more "to-do's" and I feel busier than ever after they arrive home. But, after three days of sitting with them while they practice, they catch on and have more confidence with each song and tell me that they don't need me to sit with them any more.
It really has been worth it - and the beautiful music that fills the air during the days when they assure me that they don't need me to sit with them is wonderful. I just love listening to them.
I should add that I have to bribe them to practice every day. So far, the only reward that provides enough motivation is the Wii.
(A side note: I decided that I will absolutely never again delve into the I-will-buy-you-a-toy reward system like we did all summer with their workbooks. My 7-year old turned into a crazy squirrel who could only think about accumulating more legos, and instead of focusing his energy on actually doing the workbooks, he focused daily on improving his negotiating skills, which, honestly, almost drove me mad.)
So, if my kids practice their piano (each piece at least 3 times) and do their homework, then they get to play the Wii for 30 minutes (with a timer set so that there is no pleading for more time when the beeper goes off).
It has worked lovely for weeks now, even on days that they are too tired after school to really apply themselves.
Homework is another story though. My 7-year old is starting to daily remind me that he is "not a reading guy" but is a "sports guy." I feel like we spend a lot of time discussing it and would like to put it to rest. Any suggestions out there?