In this article, you will get all information regarding Saleema Nawaz: Small miracles can happen when you let your kids teach you
I’m not sure how I did it, but I managed to turn my kid against the piano by the time she was four years old. My fatal error was trying to teach her how to play Mary Had a Little Lamb. It didn’t go well, and she has claimed to hate the piano ever since.
As parents, it can be tricky to teach our own children. The emotional intimacy makes it a potential minefield of frustration and recrimination. Our kids know how to push our buttons, and it can be challenging for parents to have the requisite patience and set aside our own anxiety about our kids’ success.
In my 20s, I imagined I’d homeschool my kids if I ever had any. After all, how long could it take to move through the material one-on-one, especially with an in-depth knowledge of your own child’s strengths and weaknesses? Now the idea makes me laugh out loud. The most luck I’ve ever had teaching my kid has been thanks to Rebecca Meow-Meow, a furry cat hand puppet that somehow manages to have more authority and gravitas than I do. These days I’m extremely grateful for the real teachers who manage to teach my child math, sports and the parts of speech. I’m hopeful that one day someone — not me — will teach her how to tell time. Then again, there are always digital clocks.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the long-anticipated (or, in my daughter’s case, long-dreaded) piano lessons were delayed until this fall. And to my great relief, she seemed to enjoy them. Her teacher finishes every lesson with an ear training quiz, and my daughter does well, receiving lots of praise and even a chocolate at the end of class. She’s always happy when we pick her up.
But over the past few weeks, after us nagging her to practice, she started liking it less. During a recent lesson, her teacher asked her to play a passage a bit faster, and she didn’t like that either. The other night when she got picked up, she said, “I want to stop taking piano.”
Her dad explained to her again that he didn’t always enjoy piano lessons as a kid either, but he wishes now he hadn’t quit. When he suggested that maybe she could teach him some of what she’d learned, she instantly started getting excited. As soon as they got home, she started demonstrating fingerings and taught him the names of the notes in French. She even showed him Mary Had a Little Lamb. Then they spent a good 15 minutes noodling around together on the keys, just having fun.
Almost instantly, playing the piano went from a source of annoyance to a top preferred pastime. In the space of less than a week, my daughter went from never practicing piano to asking to be excused early from dinner to go play. She tried playing pieces with both hands at the same time and even discussed a weekly schedule for teaching us. It might not last, but right now it feels like a small miracle.
It reminded me of how amazed she was last spring when she used the word “calin” in French and I asked her what it meant — somehow, I’d never encountered it before. She explained that it meant “hug,” but she kept reminding me of the conversation weeks later: “Mommy, remember when I actually taught you something?” At the time, and afterward, I told her I was sure she would be teaching me lots of things soon, especially since she attends a French school — but I didn’t give her any opportunities.
Children spend so much of their time having to learn — and there’s so much we have to teach them — that it’s nice when they get to turn the tables. Not only is it fun for them to show things to their parents, but we know that teaching solidifies learning and increases confidence and autonomy for learners.
And it’s nice to be reminded of just how much the kids in our lives really know.
Saleema Nawaz’s latest book is Songs for the End of the World. Visit her website, saleemanawaz.com.
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