What would Suzuki do?

My youngest has recently started playing the cello via the Suzuki Talent Education method. Developed in Japan, the Suzuki approach to music education is to create an environment within which children can learn music with the same natural ease that they learned language from birth. To this end the approach:

  • Starts young
  • Heavily involves the parents
  • Requires daily practice
  • Requires daily exposure to ideal models (music listening)
  • Includes peer group

In short, the method works because young children naturally learn all that is around them. Just like children learn their own language and culture, if a child is surrounded by music, they will learn that too. But music isn’t actually the top priority in my house… so if I’m going through all this effort to adapt my children’s environment to be more musical, shouldn’t I do the same for other priorities?

If my children are learning all that is around them, what exactly is around them, and is it what I’d like them to learn?

If we are dedicating 1+hr/day to music, is this our real priority? And if we are playing 3hrs of Minecraft a day, what are the children learning from that? In our culture we tend to assume learning happens at school or during lessons, but children are really absorbing EVERYTHING, whether it’s a time we are intending them to learn (a lesson), or it’s a time we are not intending them to learn (random TV show). I find this realization both calming and stressful because I think it means that exactly what happens in lessons is less important then we tend to make it, but that everything happening outside of lessons is much more important then we tend to make it!

Thus, inspired by Suzuki, I’ve started writing out the particular learning priorities of my family, and brainstorming how I can more holistically incorporate these into our lives. So far I’ve got, we need to be helping others more, and we need more math friends 🙂

What are your families priorities? What is your child learning from the environment all around them?

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