Working With Children

Weekly Teaching Tip – Oct. 13, 2014
by SharonRowntree

Avoid the negatives – or “Never say Don’t” is an Early Childhood philosophy.

The tip today is – Never say No, never say “Don’t” when teaching children.

Introduction – Working with Children

As teachers’ we are responsible for the care and nurturing of our young student’s voices. Sometimes students can often be under pressure from their parents to perform better, their own personal pressure to be ready to sing a song that is perceived as difficult, peer pressures, competing at school talent quests and so on.

It is important to make the lesson educational whilst having fun. I find that many young students get bored after 10 minutes of warm-ups. We need to keep the warm-ups to a minimum and get on with the singing whilst advancing with technique.

When we are warming up with the exercises or trying to get them to sing stronger by giving them a particular exercise we need to create a positive and fun approach. Each child tries their very hardest and we need to ensure that when we give them an exercise, that they feel confident in executing it. When we say the words “Don’t and “No” it can sound very negative.

It is best to stay away from the words “Don’t” and word No.

If the student does the exercise and doesn’t get it quite right for some reason (confidence, pressure, not understanding) we need to get them to do the exercise again with complete understanding. Avoid say things like “Don’t let go of your vocal cords” or “no don’t do it like that”. Instead make it fun. I teach the student hand gestures for different commands.

Eg. If the young student lets go of their vocal cords I get them to make a peace sign with there pointer finger and middle finger either open or closed depending if they are hanging on or letting go of the cords. You will find that this makes the exercise fun and the student ends up correcting themselves.

When they do the exercise, I ask them to give me the sign if they let go or hung on and they usually do the open peace sign knowing they let go. Then they do the exercise again and they usually then give me the closed peace sign and it works. They have hung onto to their vocal cords. I say to them that’s wonderful and sometimes give them a rating out of 10 as to how much they have hung on. 10 being the most and 1 being the least.

You will find that they become their own teachers and then usually the parents get involved too when they are practicing.

If you find you say the word “Don’t, you can also replace it with the word, “Avoid”.

Always avoid the “No” word and make sure the student feels that he/she is doing better. Sometimes it’s not going to be their best, as their little voices are still developing and it is usually time, that will make them stronger.

Happy teaching hope this helps.

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