This is a question we have been asked many times. We have taught with and without parents present and prefer to have them integrated into the class with the children. In fact we love having classes with a parent/carer for each child. There are many reasons why, here are just a few:
A parent/carer can
- manage their child, help them with over-brimming emotions,
- help their child to organise props and instruments and play the games with them,
- take the child to the bathroom if necessary,
- interpret instructions if they know that their child did not understand,
- learn new songs and musical activities to do at home,
- discover surprising things about their child that they didn’t know before,
- give you valuable information about their child,
- advocate for their child e g “Robbie hasn’t had a turn today.”
What’s more, we get to work with interesting new people who love children as much as we do.
Obviously, there are times when the parents/carers are not with their children, such as childcare, nursery school or kindergarten. In those settings there are often several adults ready to care for the child’s needs and there are regulations about child-staff ratios.
So yes, you can run very successful music classes without the parents present as long as you do have at least one other adult generally available. You should not be left alone with a group of young children – you never know when you might need an extra adult to think and act quickly. Of course children with special needs will need to have a carer dedicated to them.
If you are an independent music teacher who visits a centre, it is desirable to write up a contract for the client/centre manager to sign, stating your working conditions, including not being left alone with the children. The wording could be something like this:
The client is responsible for the children who are participating in the activities and the regulation number of accredited adults representing the client must be in attendance and in charge for the full period of the presentation.
Ask for other adults to be an integral part of your music sessions. Make sure they feel included – frequently use their names, ask them to hand out instruments, invite them to join in the games, make it fun for them to participate too. Make it clear that you are in this together and that they are very important to the successful running of music lessons in their centre. From the first time you enter, be a strong, warm, friendly, talented visitor to their centre so that the staff are always pleased to see you walk in.
If you have to work alone, limit the group size to very small, no more than five. Have another adult within earshot or get yourself an apprentice. Another alternative would be to run a musical playtime rather than a music lesson where you teach “from the chair”. That way, you can attend to the children with special needs while you lightly supervise children who are playing together harmoniously with musical instruments, character toys and props from songs introduced earlier.
Whichever way you run your music sessions, make sure they happen regularly and often, preferably every day but at least once a week. That way you can be sure they will take effect and contribute to the child’s growth.