Dear Parents,
In the moments of the class this week I felt very busy with taking care of the students and making good decisions about the environment. After viewing the videos I am so impressed with how the students are responding. Thinking through this carefully and remembering raising my own children I realize that often this is the feeling a parent has. It is in the looking back we are able to realize how much the child was learning. This is because children learn in a very different way from adults. They are able to take the whole environment in at a time. So while they are busy moving around and looking everywhere they are learning at a very high rate.

I traveled with my daughter to Japan regularly from the time she was 7 years old. From the very first trip she was able to communicate with our home stay family. The children and her immediately began running around and playing together while the adults tried to talk to each other without much success. When our Japanese host family would speak English with a very strong accent I could not understand them at all. My daughter however was immediately able to understand “Japanese English” So, I would say something in English and she would “translate” it into Japanese English-that is should would say it in English but with the Japanese accent. Suddenly they understood! How could she do this so easily and I was completely in the dark? Next she picked up a few Japanese words/phrases and began saying them over and over. One of them was “cheese-e-wa doku deska” which is part English, part Japanese and means something like “Where is the cheese?”. (Obviously I still don’t know Japanese) Anyway they kept buying more and more cheese for her! Mostly I was just concerned that we were offending them and didn’t realize how incredible it was that my daughter had figured out how to get what she wanted while I couldn’t understand the first thing…

And so it goes. Now she is fluent in Japanese and I still can only say “Thank-you” and ‘I’m sorry” in Japanese. This story is not unique. Children in a foreign country will always will pick up language and accent faster than their parents. This is the natural learning process we want to preserve and nurture.
Children are so amazing. Please know they are learning even when it seems they are not “paying attention”.Next, we balance this with building skill step by step and affirming that which they are doing well. The general assignment this week:

  • Bow
  • Ready position- 2 or 3 times
  • Twinkle A on thumb-3 or4 times if it was presented in class for your child
    Please make sure the thumb is moving sideways, the sounds are short and the tone is clear. Soft is fine.  Too loud means there is tension or stiffness in the body.
  • finger numbers – begin mixing up which ones you ask, or have them point to your fingers and you answer
    make-up sounds/song -black keys are great for this
  • Bow
  • Mark the assignment sheet

Total time-definitely under 10 minutes, probably around 5 minutes with the make-up song

The following link is to the book “How to teach Beginners” by Dr. Kataoka. It was intended for teachers and is also great for parents to refer to as they are going through the process. Please keep the following link for reference and read the first part:

How to teach Beginners

From this point forward the lessons will be individualized according to the child’s readiness on lesson day. So the exact assignment will vary some from child to child. This is natural. As Dr. Kataoka says in her book How to teach Beginners:   “The difference is inconsequential.”
We will discuss this and more at the parent meeting next Monday night at 6:30.
see you then,
Leah Brammer