Here’s a cautionary note as you study with your child: They don’t necessarily want another trainer. Kathleen Jen, a 52-year-old mother of two boys (now college-aged) in the Chicago suburb of Glenview, was inspired to learn karate about a decade ago after taking her sons to class. On a whim, the dojo director started offering day classes for parents. These courses ended, but Mrs. Jen was delighted. “You’re learning something you’ve been watching for two years,” she said. After the day classes ended, she moved to evening classes with her older son Matthew, who was then 6 years old. “He was three belts ahead at the time,” she said.
While you might think a child would chaf at having their mother or father in class, she said that one reason it works mainly for one reason: “I never corrected him.” Her own father, she said, was that Football coach of her high school team. “I don’t remember him giving as much feedback as I see parents in our generation give to children – even if they don’t know about it.”
Being a learning model means that parents sometimes have to accept a child’s willingness to learn, which is not always that easy. Susan Darrow, the executive director of Music Together, a global early music and movement program based in New Jersey, said getting parents out of their comfort zone can be challenging. “When a parent and a toddler come into a class, we know that the most important teacher for that child is the parent,” she noted. “But that means that the most important student for us is the parent.”
With the emphasis on playful, non-formal, experiential learning, the program found a way to reach out to parents. “We give them a strong reason to be musical what they don’t recognize,” she said. “By singing and dancing with your child every week, you support your own musicality.” Many people are embarrassed to express themselves musically, especially as beginners. But since they are doing it for their child, they tend to forget their inhibitions.
As intuitively positive as it may be to learn something new besides your own child, there is hardly any research on possible benefits – the question was left blank by several researchers I have contacted. It is also not easy to find programs aimed at families studying together.
There is one approach that positioned the parents as a kind of model co-learner right from the start: the “Suzuki method”, named after its founder, the Japanese violinist and teacher Shinichi Suzuki. Beth Cantrell, who teaches the cello this way and is chairman of the board of directors of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, said that when a parent learns to play an instrument with their child, not only is they modeling the act of learning, but “showing some respect for the parent how difficult the child’s task is. “
And who knows, maybe it will last for both parents and child. Ms. Jen, the Illinois mother karate, became a black belt like her son. In a nice twist, her son was in the audience when she attended a master-level event a few years ago. After her team won gold, her son asked, “Don’t you just love to compete?” She said, “No, I hate to compete. I love training. “To which he replied,” Mom, that’s so backwards. “