I am constantly asked where I get my patience from (usually by slightly exasperated parents). There are certain times of year where we need a little more patience than normal. Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and Summer… so basically all year round! But genuinely, the kids tend to go a little nuts when they are approaching a school holiday. I’m not sure if it’s that they know there is a holiday approaching and become giddy, or that they are giddy because they are in need of a holiday! At the same time we have our own deadlines that we want or need to reach and it can be a struggle to get things done with a giddy child in front of you. I don’t know which is trickier to teach, a giddy child, or a dozy child!!
One of the first books you should read as a trainee Suzuki teacher is Nurtured by Love, by Shinichi Suzuki. Parents of Suzuki students should also read this, and re-read it, and re-read it as their child gets older. I can picture the paragraph in Nurtured by Love where Suzuki says ‘patience is enjoying the moment’. Whenever I’m faced with a child who is struggling to concentrate I think of that phrase. Instead of getting frustrated I urge myself to step into the shoes of the child and think like them. Suddenly it’s not frustrating anymore. I LOVE this step, I love becoming the child again and looking at our class situation through the child’s eyes. I love how simple everything seems. I can see clearly how the task at hand may phase them and I can rephrase or simplify the task in a completely child-friendly way and not just child-friendly, but tired-child-friendly! I’m then in a position to enjoy the moment without frustration, as I can understand where everyone in the room is coming from.
So in a nutshell, that’s where I get my patience. It’s not a natural quality, it’s not an inborn talent. It’s simple role-reversal.
We’re constantly being encouraged to ‘live in the moment’, and ‘be mindful’. Whatever your take is on these popular phrases, one thing is for sure – when dealing with children you absolutely have to live in the moment. With every new child that comes in my door I reset my energy and start afresh. I wipe the slate clean and forget everything else outside the classroom door.
Live in the moment, teach in the moment, and play music in the moment.