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At the piano, 3-year-old Lennon plays random sounds. "Why don't you teach him to play?" asks my visitor from the East Coast, who knows that I am a pianist. "He is learning," I say. "I can never match the effectiveness of this natural way of mastering a skill." My friend looks at me doubtfully. "When you come again for a visit next year you'll see," I say. Even though I have no idea where Lennon's playing is going, I figure she'll see growth in whatever he will do as long as he is free to play.

How many parents and teachers are concerned when a day goes by with play and play and more play? "When will she learn if she plays all day?"

Is play really a waste of time? Did nature goof when all cubs, including humans, are born with a drive and an ability to play?

 

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HOMESCHOOLING

 Homeschooling • Unschooling • Democratic School • Children’s Play • Child’s Emotions • Talking to Kids about and Sex • Tiger Mother • Learning to Read • Harm of Praise • Harm of Rewards • Self-Directed Learning • Child’s Social Skills • Child’s Talents • Child’s Self-Esteem • Learning Math and much more

 

 Homeschooling articles:

• The Advantages of Learning to Read Later

• Joining your child’s activities can stifle her creativity and confidence 

• And They Played All Day

Guidance on nurturing your child's musical talent

Video-Interview about Self-directed Education and Homeschooling

 

More articles about homeschooling...

 


UNSCHOOLING WEBCLASS VIDEO:

Lecture and question & answers

Watch 2 hours webclass video about unschooling. In the “deep“ classes Naomi speaks briefly and works with individual parents on their questions, doing deep inquiry designed to free the self from limiting thoughts about the particular issues.

 

Naomi Aldort raised her three sons without schooling. All three graduated universities with excellence.

• She has been a keynote speaker at many homeschooling and unschooling conferences world wide, including AERO, Rethinking Education, Canada homeschooling organization, as well as groups in Europe and Australia. Her articles and advice columns about homeschooling, music, self-directed learning and parenting have been published in magazines internationally.

• Naomi offers advice on unschooling and homeschooling as well as on alternative schools options and all parenting issues. Her guidance is flexible and accommodating family and children’s special situations and needs. She also recommends alternative schools when needed, the democratic schools, Reggio Emilia and other schools that respect the child’s inner guide.

 


HOMESCHOOLING SET of 7 CDs:

Trusting Our Children Trusting Ourselves

(Please note, this CD set is not the same as the book, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves)

This comprehensive, indispensable 7 CD set contains six keynotes given by Naomi Aldort at the unschooling/homeschooling conference, Rethinking Education in Dallas, Texas. It covers practically all the major parenting and self-directed learning issues in one amazing package.

Disc 1: Rethinking Education: Debunking common assumptions about child development.

Disc 2: Part 1 - Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves Part I: Bring peace and unconditional love into your relationship with your children by understanding your own reaction as different from your child’s needs.

Disc 2: Part 2 - Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves Part II.

Disc 3: Debunking Praise: Find out why you really praise and at what price.

Disc 4: Children’s Behavior and Emotions: Includes many questions from audience members, and Aldort’s skillful guidance about understanding children so they can be the best of themselves.

Disc 5: Self Directed Learning: Why children learn best when they follow their own path, timetable and direction, and how to support them toward their own fulfillment.

Disc 6: Equality, Respect and Freedom for Children: From chores to bed time and dinner; how to live with children in a way that they care and respond, not out of fear, but out of joy and love, of their own free will.

 


Education quotes:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” 
- Albert Einstein

 

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” 
- Albert Einstein

 

“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” 

- Albert Einstein

 

“People with great passions, people who accomplish great deeds, people who possess strong feelings, even people with great minds and a strong personality, rarely come out of good little boys and girls.”    

– Lev Vygotsky

 

“I loathed every day and regret every day I spent in school.”        

– Woody Allen


Recommended books and authors:

John Holt: How children learn, how children fail, freedom and beyond, Teach your own, Learning all the time

A.S. Neill: Summerhill, Freedom not License

Grace Llewellyn: The Teenage Liberation Handbook; how to quit school and get real life

Daniel Greenberg: Free at Last: Sudbury Valley School (first democratic school.)

Peter Gray: Free to Learn

Pat Farenga, Former editor of Growing Without Schooling magazine

Alfie Kohn: Punished by Rewards, The Homework Myth, No contest; the case against competition, Feel Bad education, The case against Standardized testing

John Taylor Gatto: Dumbing us Down, Weapons of Mass Instruction

Matt Hern: Deschooling our Lives

 

 

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Subcategories

Nurturing Your Child’s Musical Talent

by Naomi Aldort

Author of Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves

Q: My daughter is very musical. She sings in tune, has a great sense of rhythm and loves music. We have a piano at home and she can figure out some little tunes by ear, even some Bach. She is four. I offered her piano lessons, but she is not interested. Everyone tells me that she should start Suzuki piano and that I am neglecting her talent. I know two of your children are musicians so I wondered if you would address this subject and share your experience.

A:  I do not recommend formal lessons at an early age or at any time before your daughter asks for it of her own free will, but I do offer musical learning at home. 

We parents are gullible when it comes to talent. We tend to live our own dreams of glory through our children. Unfortunately, if we are not careful, children will go on the path of our dream, missing their own. They will look happy and we will be fooled to think that they love the lessons, when what they really love is to please us and be the sunshine of our dreams. Eventually this becomes old and the child’s search for herself collides with her need to please her parents or other adults. Depression is one of the most common results of such inner confusion. 

Not offering lessons does not meant not nurturing the child’s talent. On the contrary, when not relying on a weekly teacher to do the job, you take more responsibility and the child learns a whole lot more. I offered such “home lessons” to my children, and by the time they started to study with teachers, they were already reading notes and skillful with the fundamentals of rhythms, tonality, chords, and feeling the music. They were also freely improvising and totally passionate about music. Instead of a weekly or bi-weekly lessons, their musical learning occurred a few times per day, every day of the week. I avoided praise so that their love of music would remain authentic and not confused with pleasing me. 

For the last twelve years I have made these games and technique available to parents around the world via one time phone session. See for details here: https://www.naomialdort.com/nurturing-your-child-s-musical-talent/nurturing-your-child-s-musical-talent.html

Inspiration Through Concerts

After returning from one of the chamber music festival concerts on our island, two of my children asked for lessons, one on violin the other cello. I promised to inquire about teachers. I didn’t show enthusiasm or interest and didn’t rush to the phone either. I waited for a repeated nag, the kind you get when your child wants a candy or a toy. I waited to be sure that the children are driven by their own passion and not by a need for approval. When a second and third reminders came, “Mom did you call a cello/violin teacher?” I said, “Not yet, but keep reminding me so I don’t forget.” They did. Each one separately. They nagged daily. Passion was present; it was their initiative so I finally made the call.

Before interviewing teachers, I shared my view of lessons with the children. I told them that I will pay for the lessons, sit and write notes at the lessons and support their musical needs. I also explained, “It is your responsibility to practice daily and to be completely ready for the next lesson.” They could have tried just a few lessons and say, “No, I don’t like it,” or, “I want to try a different teacher/instrument.” They always knew that they didn’t have to take lessons. They were not tied for years to an idea that passed their mind at a young age. It was continually their choice.

Our oldest, Yonatan, asked for violin lessons when he was seven and a half. We returned home for a concert and for the next few days he asked repeatedly for lessons, so I got him a teacher and a little violin. He took lessons for six months and was playing Bach very nicely. His little three your old brother, Lennon, was accompanying him on the piano by ear. Then he notified me that he was stopping the violin lessons. So he did. He said to me, “When I listened to that violinist in the concert I was curious to know how to get such a beautiful sound out of a piece of wood. Now I know. I don’t need lessons any more.” Every experience is valuable. The child who has the passion to become a musician will tell you so by continuing her lessons.

Young children have no idea what “taking lessons” means. They often say, “yes” and get excited about it, anticipating something different than how it turns out to be. If we insist that they stay with a class that is not exciting to them any more, they will put a lead on their natural enthusiasm. If one loses her freedom to choose, she is likely to feel unsafe to take a class, join a group or commit to anything new. “If I try something, I will be forced to stick with it even when I don’t like it.” 

“But how will the child learn to persist when it becomes boring and challenging?” asked one concerned father in a recent workshop. Amazingly, when a child feels free to choose, she is less likely to quit. She is SELF motivated and tends to push herself through hard times, not out of fear or a wish to please her parents, but of her own free will. Feeling ownership is the key to commitment. If she quits when free to choose, then it is best for her; she may need time, a change of instrument, teacher, or a new opportunity. In contrast, sticking with it against her will creates a bad memory about commitment, resentment and a wish to either resist, or be hooked on doing things compulsively for approval. After all, her experience is not of keeping a commitment, but of obeying you.

Passing Interests or Passion?

Like Yonatan and his violin, we all pass through many interests and experiences. Most don’t become life passions. We develop commitment when we choose freely and authentically. This is the reason I suggest that you be very respectful of your daughter; make no assumptions about what she wants and wait for her to lead the way. I hear that she is happy playing by ear and she has no interest in anyone limiting her experience with “teaching.” A wise child indeed.

At age three-and-a-half, Lennon played (by himself) on the piano classical music by ear, hands together, flawlessly, moving Bach and Beethoven from key to key and improvising at ease. He had no lessons and little interest in guidance. When Lennon asked for violin lessons at age nine, he practiced three times a day and played Bach double concerto in his fourth month of lessons. But he had no interest in performing or in the detailed work that goes with becoming a stage artist. Instead he joined an orchestra, composed music and at age fourteen conducted his own symphony in public. He is now a professional improvisational pianist and composer.

Our youngest, Oliver, gave his first full recital after only one year of lessons, at seven to a full house, because he wanted to feel what it was like to be a musician. He had to beg me to rent the concert hall and persisted in the face of my reluctance. (Honestly I dreaded the amount of work it took, but was grateful later.) He loved it and it helped him to be clear that this was what he wanted to do. At ten he was a soloist with an orchestra and at eleven he was on From the Top and on TV. He was engaged in music much of his days. Like his brother, Oliver showed his first musical passion at age three-and-a-half playing songs with chords by ear and improvising. From the start he was eager to perform. He asked to be on stage (playing piano music he composed or played by ear) before he was four and had to be “dragged” off stage or he would have performed his whole full hour repertoire. 

Meanwhile, Lennon’s real passion was clearly composing. At 15, Oliver conducted the Academy Chamber Orchestra in a public concert, in Lennon’s symphony #3 which he wrote when he was 13. I hope this helps you see how children with passion demand to get what they need and go in the direction that fits them best. 

Delight in your daughter and enjoy loving her musical and other experiences. She needs skill building activities, concerts, and developing other interests as well. Most of all she needs your confidence in who she is. She is already confident and clear and if you don’t doubt her by injecting your projections or aspirations, she will do exactly what is best for her. 

Respond to her musical love by joining and enriching her experience.  

Avoid making a fuss about her successes so her freedom is unharmed. Play the piano yourself if you like. Expose your daughter to using the piano for free self-expression by improvising so she feels free to play rather than restricted by the “right” notes. 

Starting Lessons

If, at some point, your daughter insists on having lessons, explain to her what it would demand of her and sign her up for just a couple of lessons, then ask her how she liked it and if she is interested in more. There maybe more than one teacher and class to choose from. I introduce my child to a few teachers to choose from. Teachers appreciate this careful selection. It helps them have students who truly love them and connect well with them. You want to make sure that your daughter has a teacher who respects her and flows with her style of learning and musical expression while also expanding her musical world and providing excellent instructions. Enjoy your daughter with curiosity and follow her lead.

To book an instructional session on music games for the young: https://www.naomialdort.com/nurturing-your-child-s-musical-talent/nurturing-your-child-s-musical-talent.html

©Copyright Naomi Aldort   

 
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