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5 On-Demand Holiday Activities for Kids

holiday activities
From Christmas Bingo by Tutoring Support Services 

Find boredom busters your kids can do at their own pace. Anytime, anywhere.

These winter-themed activities are all accompanied by videos for kids to independently learn on their own using ActivityHero On-Demand. From 10 minute projects to longer 160 minute adventures, take your pick.

1. Discover Christmas S.T.E.M.

Where S.T.E.M. (or Science. Technology. Engineering. Mathematics.) and Christmas join forces. Kids will continue learning while they are doing fun Christmas activities to get into the spirit of the holidays.

Ages 4 – 8 (160 minutes)

>Explore more On-Demand STEM inspired activities

2. Paint a Christmas Hedgehog

Watch the step-by-step process of creating a scenery from a blank piece of paper. Students will learn how to sketch, color and shade to really enhance their drawing techniques, and design a beautiful background and foreground in the process.

Ages 6 – 17 (61 minutes)

3. Take a Jingle Bells Piano Lesson

Ms. Emily from KidzKeyz will teach your kids (the colorful way) how to play Jingle Bells on the piano, just in time for the holidays!

This simple, quick lesson gives students in K through 3rd Grade an opportunity to explore and express their own creativity. Your child will love KidzKeyz fun and encouraging teaching style.

Ages 4 – 9 (10 minutes)

4. Make a Winter Holiday Card

Learn the basics of vector based illustrations with Inkscape (a free software) while creating your very own winter theme card.  Kids will draw a basic winter scene, that includes making some basic evergreen trees, snow flakes, and even form a snow man! You can print and use the card you create as a holiday card, or a card to bring in some winter time cheer.

Ages 9 – 18 (48 minutes)

5. Join Storytime + Mud-Play

Teacher Shelly will read to you from this amazing book all about mud! Do you like to play in the mud? Or would you rather keep your hands clean? Have you ever thought about painting with mud?

This video might just inspire you to create your own mud masterpiece! Campers are invited to dig into our mud-play activities after watching the read-aloud video. The video is 5 minutes long if you prefer to simply listen to the story and skip the messy play.

Ages 2 – 12 (20 minutes)

Discover more on-demand DIY holiday inspired, self-led learning opportunities for your kids at ActivityHero.

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Academics After-School Activities Creative Arts Dance Language Music Online Learning Science/Technology Uncategorized

Boredom Busters: Interesting New Classes To Try Next Week

Extra curricular activities open kids’ minds to new interests. They help build skills outside of the classroom. They provide a productive break from study. And they open new social opportunities to grow a community. Here are editor’s picks for interesting new classes to try:

Foreign Language

The many cognitive benefits of learning languages are undeniable. People who speak more than one language have improved memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, ability to multitask, and better listening skills.*

Theater Games in Spanish – Beginners

by Rogue Artists Ensemble

Learn Spanish through theatre games and music! We naturally learn language through trial and error and through play. In Theatre Games in Spanish, students learn to communicate in Spanish by playing games and having fun. We strive to joyfully instill a love of language through embodied learning and play.

Grades K – 5

$17/day starting Feb 22

German for Beginners: Singing & Speaking

by Musical Learning

In this fun and musical class, learners explore German greetings, keywords, introduction vocabulary and pronunciation – through music! Learning a language is fun and easy with Ms. Kelsey – let’s sing, dance and color! 

Ms. Kelsey is a professional opera singer and language teacher, and she started Musical Learning in 2016. She has taught German, French, English and ‘Musical Science’ for the past 10 years both online and in person. 

Ages 3 – 7

$100/ 8 session series that meets twice a week starting Feb 22


STEM

Skills attained through STEM education include problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, curiosity, decision making, leadership, entrepreneurship, acceptance of failure and more.*

Explorations in Quantum Physics

by Electivity Kids

In the first 4 weeks of the session, students learn about the electromagnetic nature of matter and energy, including: Magnetism, Magnetic Induction Electricity, Photons, Solar Energy. In the second half of the session, students are introduced to atoms, subatomic particles and the Periodic Table of Elements (Hydrogen to Xenon). They learn how atoms form molecules, and also learn about the structure of the Periodic Table.  Class content is taught through engaging visual aids, physical demonstrations and thought-provoking discussion.

Grades 5 – 12

$230/ full series, ongoing until March 22

Python Programming 1: Live Online Class

by Kodeclik Online Academy

Python is one of the most feature-packed coding languages ever and today underlies the foundation of many websites, applications, and games.

This fast moving course assumes no prior experience with Python programming but rapidly takes you to high levels of functionality illustrating how you can write your own programs in Python!

Ages 11 – 18

$399 / 16-session series beginning Feb 19

Ancient Greece to Quantum Realms

by Digivations Institute

With An Emphasis on the Homeric epics of The Iliad and the Odyssey, the Milesian School of Thought yielding Thales, Pre-Socratics highlighting Democritus and the Socratic Period illustrative of Socrates Philosophy in the Context of Innovation Ranging from The Theory of Everything to Einstein’s Unified Theory and Quantum Realms.

Digivations Institute has NASA award-winning curriculum and is an ActivityHero Best of 2020.

ages 12 & up

$49/day ongoing until May 25

Curiosity Club S.T.E.A.M. Lab – science & art fun

by Active Art & Science

Join us online for S.T.E.A.M powered fun where you will explore the curious worlds of science, technology, engineering, art and math. Conduct experiments, create art, build, take things apart and enjoy learning how art, science, engineering and technology are connected.

Ages 5 – 10

$96/ 6-session series beginning Feb 22


Homeschooling

Homeschool offers academic flexibility. During these ever-changing COVID times, many families have turned to this option. Try these classes for academic homeschooling and enrichment education!

Martial Arts & Life Lessons

by Family Karate

Family Karate provides fun, fitness, karate, and life skills.  Now your child can enjoy our unique blend of martial arts and character building in our live online classes with a Master Instructor.

In each class we’ll ask you to set a self leadership goal for your children, and in the next class we’ll follow up progress on those goals.

Ages 5 – 11 but fun for the whole family! Try it as a stress reliever!

$10/day trial classes or $20/day regular price ongoing throughout spring

First Grade Curriculum! Homeschooling 101!

by Homeschool Academy

This is a great introductory trial for parents thinking about homeschooling their kids.

In this curriculum which follows the Common Core State Standards, we dive into EVERYTHING your child should learn in First Grade WOW! See below for a snapshot of some of the covered content. In previous classes on different platforms– parents would RAVE how their child would not be able to read at all prior to Mrs. Hendricks Academy and by the end of the curriculum- they were reading whole sentences, creative writing on their own and excelling. 

Ages 4 – 8

$7/class. Special discount available $145/month

Princess Story Time Ballet Dance Camp

by Lovely Leaps

Each week we will have a different princess joining the class. After the princess arrives the children will perform their dance while the princess sings, Then they will sit with their favorite toy while the princess reads a fun book! After story time the children will have a chance to each personally interact with the princess! It’s not everyday your child will get to have a virtual Disneyland experience! 

Ages 3 – 6

$17/day starting March 4


Tired of online classes? Try a fun Lego® course:
Amusement Park LEGO® Engineering

by SNAPOLOGY OF LOS GATOS

We bet your child loves going to amusement parks to experience the variety of fast, dropping, and spinning rides, but have they ever thought about the science that goes into building those rides and the people who are responsible for designing them? In Snapology’s Amusement Park Engineering class, students will become engineers building their own amusement park rides like roller coasters, Ferris wheel , Bumper Car and other awesome rides!! 

Snapology of Los Gatos serves Almaden, Camden, Los Gatos, Saratoga and Cupertino.

Ages 5 – 12

$150/ 4-session series starting Feb 24

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Creative Arts Featured Posts Music On-Demand

On-Demand Activities with Music and Dance

On-demand classes and activities for your child are great for a busy schedule. Follow along with these activities featuring fun musical instruments, dancing, and games!

See All On-Demand Music Classes >>

piano lessons on-demand for kids

Piano Lessons with KidzKeys!

If you don’t know where to start learning piano, this free music reading tutorial is perfect for beginners! More available on-demand lessons by KidzKeys include step-by-step video instruction, listening examples, and printables. Your child will love Ms. Emily’s fun and encouraging teaching style.

dance for kids on-demand

Dance-A-Thon KIDS – 5 style sampler

This 30 minute class is  a sample of what the Two Left Feet Dance Studio offers virtually. Support their amazing dance instructors while getting a introduction to dance styles like pop, ballet, tap, creative dance, and hip-hop!

Kids Guitar club for kids

Get Strumming in Guitar Club!

This free Getting Started on Guitar video is perfect for beginners. Mr. Jonathan will show students the parts of the Guitar, how to read Guitar Music (called Tablature), and how to tune your Guitar at home (Printable Download Tuning Guide Included!). Guitar Club gives students the opportunity to grab a guitar and have fun learning how to play well-known songs.

Kids piano lessons on-demand

Music Exploration with Mx. Lydia

Explore the piano with in this dynamic on-demand video class by the Bay Area Music Project. Learn about music fundamentals through stories, games, and songs.

Beat makers Remix the mandalorian kids music

Beat Makers: Remix the Mandalorian Theme

Learn how to remix your favorite songs and work on your own digital music projects. Beat Makers will show you how to lay down some beats, remix well-known melodies, and jam to your own songs! This video lesson includes video instruction, a full access account on Soundtrap, printable worksheets, and listening examples.

Kids Music and spanish with Cucu's playhouses

Music and Movement in Spanish

Cucu’s Playhouse provides this great music and movement class in Spanish for babies, toddlers and preschoolers! In each class, children are introduced to basic concepts like animals, colors and numbers through the universal language of Music. Each session is fun, active and engaging. 

Singing with Miss Stephanie

These videos by Gymboree Play & Music are great for young children from 6 months to 5 years old. Miss Stephanie hosts a Sing and Learn Class with lots of great songs, activities, and play time for your little ones. These on-demand videos include fun and learning in all types of subjects each week!

See All On-Demand Music Activities >>

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Camps Creative Arts Dance Featured Posts Music Performing Arts Play/Outdoor Science/Technology Sports

Bay Area Summer Camp Guide for Kids and Teens

This summer camp guide will help you find camps that fit your kids interests and provide some tips on how to make it easier to plan your summer with the greatest ease. 

Adventure Camps | Best Bay Area Summer Camps at Activity Hero

Bay Area kids benefit from a large variety of summer camps — sports, art, coding, outdoor and specialty camps! Many parents describe the camp planning process as a jigsaw puzzle as they try to fit together multiple kids, friends, and camp schedules. 

At ActivityHero, our mission is to make finding and booking summer camps easier for parents. We’ve put together this summer camp guide to provide an overview of all the top camp categories.

Sports Camps

Sports camps are popular with kids of all ages. Summer is a great time for kids to further explore a sport that they love or try something new. Besides keeping kids active, sports camps help kids learn teamwork and perseverance. Sports camps also tend to be less expensive than other camps. 

Boys and girls love soccer camps, and even in the summer, it’s not too hot in the Bay Area to be on the soccer field. The youngest campers have fun playing games and running off all that extra summer energy. Experienced players benefit from extra instruction during the off season.

Family favorites:
Coach Ken Soccer Camps: “Great staff and great experience for my son and daughter! This was our first year and my daughter who is 6 was interested in playing sports like her 8 year old brother. They both had a great time, learned a lot, and it was a great learning environment for the kids. Can’t wait to go back!”

Basketball camps are great for coordination, exercise and team-building. Campers learn the fundamentals of basketball through games and fun drills. Coaches group children by age and skill level, making it a suitable choice for beginner or advanced basketball players.

Family favorites:
Legarza Sports “My son loved his week at Basketball camp. Good instructors who care about the kids. Drop off and pick up were very easy. He’s excited to return next year.

Dance camps are a great way for artistic children to explore their creativity through a variety of different dance disciplines such as modern, jazz, ballet, hip hop, salsa or even aerial dance.

Family favorites:
Grrrl Brigade “A terrific empowering experience that exposes and teaches your child a wide range of dances, music, positive approaches to thinking and expressing themselves. The “show” at the end of the week is very inspiring and the staff is thoughtful, patient and kind in leading the girls through an impressive array of choreography.”

Multi-sport camps are a good way to give kids a variety of several different sports and outdoor games. Bald Eagle Sports Camp proudly says their multi-sport camp is “known for getting even the laziest kids up and moving…and loving it!” 

Family favorites:
Growfit “The staff at GrowFit are simply amazing. I sent both my kids here during the school break and they had an awesome time. The staff went above and beyond when my son was being called names. I really can’t say enough good things about them.”

Coding, Science, and Robotics Camps

Parents know how kids can consume technology for hours at a time on video games, YouTube videos, and social media. So it’s not a surprise that many parents are interested in directing this interest into creating video games, making movies, or coding the next social media app like TikTok. 

Summer is a great time to explore coding for kids because most schools don’t offer coding during the school year. Many coding camps use video camps as the subject matter for teaching kids how to use Scratch or Python to create their own game or learn Minecraft or Roblox mods. Teens may choose Java programming camps to prepare for high school computer science courses or App development camps to explore new app ideas. 

Science camps and STEM camps are popular for girls and boys who are naturally inquisitive. Camps that focus on science, technology, engineering and math challenges are engaging for curious children who like to explore the how and why. For middle and high school students, STEM camps can showcase a wide variety of potential career opportunities.

Family favorites:
Camp Galileo
Camp EDMO
Destination Science introduces new kid-oriented themes each year, like animals, space, or amusement parks. 

Robot summer camps are like coding camps with an extra element of competition. TV shows like BattleBots have introduced more families to the thrill of designing and battling robots. Many introductory robotics summer camps use LEGO Mindstorms, which is also used by the First Lego League in nationwide competitions for kids. 

Family favorites:
Wizbots
TechKnowHow 

Art, LEGO, and Maker Camps

Creative kids can grow their skills and express themselves in any number of art camps and maker camps. From learning to draw to learning to build, art and other maker camps can bring out the creator in every kid.

At a LEGO camp, kids build LEGO animals, spacecraft, and other creations. 

Family favorites:
KidzToPros
Brainvyne LEGO Camps 

For budding master chefs, a cooking camp like Sprouts Cooking Club or Culinary Dude offers hands-on cooking experience and a daily menu. On-demand activities include recipes and video walkthroughs for meals and desserts.

Kids and teens who want to learn to sew will find some creative sewing camps such as Camp Couture in San Mateo, owned by Project Runway finalist Alexandria von Brommson. Sewing camps like this let kids design their own fashions, accessories, and even soft toys. 

Woodworking camp is very popular, even in the high-tech age, but harder to find due to the specialized equipment and instructors. Maker Nexus in Sunnyvale has sewing camps as well as woodworking and industrial arts for kids and adults. You’ll also find woodworking at Tinkering School in San Francisco and Young Builders in Palo Alto. 

Outdoor and Nature Camps

For both boys and girls, outdoor camps are a top interest with kids ages 5-13. This is great news for parents who want their kids to spend less time with screens and more time connecting with nature and playing outside.

The Bay Area is the perfect place for kids to enjoy both water sports and mountain adventures. Kids can take a hike along creeks or try rock climbing, mountain biking, or canoeing. 

Family favorites:
Camp Galileo
Avid4 Adventure

Also popular in the Bay Area

Academic camps are a top interest for kids ages 7-10 who would like to explore a subject beyond the typical classroom curriculum in an exciting and engaging way.

Family favorites:
“My daughter loves math circle. She tells me that she’s not doing math like at school, rather she says she’s doing puzzles and games and that it’s really fun. I love that she’s having fun learning and that math circle helps her develop a positive attitude about math.”

Girls-only camps are a chance for girls to connect with other girls and get a unique perspective on topics such as leadership, teamwork and goal setting. A single gender camp can boost confidence and help girls find their voice while making friends.

Summer Planning Made Easy

Are you juggling a summer camp schedule with multiple children? Or, are you trying to coordinate camps and carpool with friends? ActivityHero has launched a new tool to make inviting friends and teammates even easier. You can now add your favorite summer camps to a saved list, invite friends and share as a group. Parents are able to RSVP that they are interested, registered or unavailable for that camp all in one convenient location. Save time and plan the ultimate summer experience with your child’s classmates, teammates, neighbors and more!

How many camps should my child attend?

It really depends on your child. Some kids can be single-minded and want to enjoy one camp for the summer and focus on their favorite activity, other kids want to take several classes in different areas throughout the season.

You can find these Bay Area summer camps and many more camps near you on ActivityHero or download our iPhone app for faster and easier searching!

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After-School Activities Classic Guitar Drums Flute Guitar Music Music Theory Piano Rock Saxophone String Trumpet Violin Voice Wind

7 Ways Music Lessons Help Kids Excel






Looking to avoid summer brain drain? A music-loving mom shares her personal research into 7 impressive benefits associated with music lessons. Drumroll, please!

By Katie Femia

One, two, three, four … With all of the counting and time signatures, it makes sense that learning a musical instrument can help strengthen a child’s ability to do mathematics and problem-solve. Years of research have borne that out. But what about socially? Emotionally? Physically? Personally? It turns out that music lessons can be an effective way to help children grow in all of these areas, too.

My own daughter began playing the piano at the age of nine. It was something she had asked us to sign her up for after she received a keyboard for Christmas the year prior. She was at the age where we expected more responsibility from her, and we were also looking for an effective way for her to channel her feelings. Music lessons have helped her in both of those areas. Being able to use her hands to create something beautiful is a therapeutic experience for her. Working with her instructor and practicing at home means she has developed more discipline and motivation to excel. As her lessons continue I am seeing growth in other areas of her life as well.

Here’s a medley of the amazing benefits that can come when children take up an instrument.

1. Improved Memory

Whether your child is memorizing the alphabet, multiplication tables, or Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, they will need to be able to focus on the information and store it in a retrievable manner. Music reinforces memory in the sense that it requires the child to memorize notes along with hand/mouth movement, turning the information into a tune. Using this part of the brain often to store and recite information is important, and music lessons continue to put memorization skills into practice.

2. Stress Relief or Prevention

Artforms are a wonderful way for children to express themselves while relieving tension at the same time, and music is no exception. The hands-on experience, the practice of manipulating the instruments, and the sound of the music that is created can all help put children at ease–especially after a long day at school.My child’s music school even has a school outreach program where kids with special needs are given musical instruments to play as a form of therapy.

3. Better Focus

Traditional classroom learning typically involves long periods of sitting still and concentrating, which can be a challenge for children. Music lessons can help children improve their focus, as their concentration and attention to detail is important when learning a tune. Improved attention leads to mastery of the tune and progress on to the next one. The positive feelings that result from this accomplishment strengthen their desire and ability to focus on goals related to the classroom.

piano-lessons-for-kids

4. Fine Motor Skill Development

Fine motor skills–for example, tasks that are done with the fingers–typically require hand and eye coordination. Learning to play a musical instrument can help strengthen a child’s fine motor skills, which can come in handy in the classroom when the child writes (in print or cursive), paints, cuts, measures, glues, and so on.

5. Enhanced Self-Esteem

When a child becomes familiar with playing a musical instrument, they can feel a great sense of pride in their accomplishment. As they realize that they can entertain others and even evoke emotions through their performances, their confidence may grow even more. Every child wants to feel like they are good at or successful at something, and music lessons give them the chance to do that … and then treat others with their talent. The resulting self-esteem follows that child throughout their school day and throughout their life.

6. Lessons in Accountability

My daughter’s piano lessons are an intense 30 minutes in length, so it is important she is ready with her music sheets, notebook, and a sharpened pencil in hand when the lesson begins. She knows that stopping to find any of these items during the lesson would take away from valuable class time. The “homework” assigned by music instructors can also help create accountability in kids. At home, kids learn to make decisions on how to allocate their time to prepare for the next lesson. Children who take music lessons can carry this skill of accountability over to their classroom life, where deadlines for homework and classwork need to be met.

7. A Sense of Responsibility

Whether you decide to rent or own your child’s instrument, you will find it does not come cheap. Caring for the instrument properly is essential to protect your investment. Music lessons teach your child to be responsible for cleaning, caring for, and storing their instrument properly. The habits kids learn in music lessons can translate into increased responsibility for their school supplies, homework, and even their actions.

Consider music as a summer enrichment activity which can prepare your child to succeed in the classroom when the next school year rolls around. There are options for every budget and level of experience, so do some exploring and what might interest your child! Find summer music camps near you at ActivityHero.

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Bass Guitar Drums Guitar Music Theory Percussion Piano Rock Voice

Rock Music Lessons: Surprising Ways They Pay Off

Believe it or not, rock music lessons offer some perks you might not find with other instruments. And kids who participate can do more than rattle your windows. Here, some experts share a few surprising reasons why it’s good for kids to rock out.

By Kathy Teel and Heather Shade

Why Rock Music Lessons Are Great for Kids

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when parents hear the words “rock band”? Most likely, lots of noise coming from your garage on the weekends. You might wonder, “Wouldn’t it be better for my child to focus on something that has a little more grace than the electric guitar or a drum set? Violin, perhaps?” It would certainly be more peaceful.

But what works for one kid doesn’t always work for another. While one may lean more toward a cello or piano, another may prefer the sounds that come from a bass guitar.

And here’s the good news: The experts we interviewed for this article say that’s okay! It may come as a shock to a lot of parents, but there are many similarities between the benefits of learning to play rock music and learning to play classical music. And there’s at least one surprising perk that you may not have previously imagined.

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From practical, everyday skills….

Cheri Norton is general manager of Hoover Music Company in Springfield, Missouri, which provides music lessons for many different instruments and styles of music, from electric guitar and drum kit to strings and brass. “Rock lessons,” she says, “like other music lessons, help develop skills of responsibility, commitment, critical thinking, and more.”

As with any other type of music lessons, what your child gets out of the activity depends largely upon what’s required of them — and what their teacher brings to the table. “It completely depends on the content of the lessons, the instructor, and the amount of practice a student puts in throughout the week outside of the lesson,” says Norton. That’s why, when interviewing different music instructors for your child, it’s important to find out their policies on practice, the types of skills they highlight, and what their goals are for the students they teach.This is true whether you decide to enroll your child in private lessons on the bass guitar or the piccolo.

Mike Winchel, guitarist since 2012 for the hard rock/heavy metal band Last Contact, agrees. Winchel has been playing the guitar for the last 16 years. One of the first things kids learn in rock music lessons, says Winchel: There are no shortcuts to success. “A lot of kids want to learn how to play their favorite songs before learning the basics,” he says. Music instructors, however, know that’s not the road to success in any type of music. “So you have to learn patience.”

“Laying a musical foundation is hard work, and it takes practice,” Norton adds. “There is no fast track to rocking out on the guitar and being successful in music. Although playing music is absolutely fun, the fun is a reward for all of the work.”

classical-music-lessons-for-kids

To previously unappreciated musical territories…

Winchel also brings up a point that many parents may not have considered: By taking rock-style lessons, kids can begin to explore previously unappreciated musical territories.

“Rock bands of every genre have their roots in blues and jazz, which are rooted in both folk and classical music,” he says. “The more kids learn about playing rock music, they more they learn about other styles. Then they end up expanding their taste and appreciation, as well as their skills.”

In fact, kids who would normally be resistant to listening to or learning about other types of music may find that rock music lessons open the door to a love of different styles later in life. What’s more, adds Winchel, learning classical instrumentation, country chords, blues scales, jazz drums, bass funk, etc., “will only make rock music easier to learn. So your budding musician will be proficient not only in rock ’n’ roll, but in other genres as well.”

Learning to play rock music can also open doors to many other activities, besides being in a rock band, Winchel says. “If you can play guitar, you can translate those skills to orchestra,” he explains. Likewise, kids who learn drum set can find a role on the bass drum, timpani, snare, or drum set in a concert band, jazz band, or marching band. “And kids can use the dedication, practice, and patience in every aspect of their adult life,” Winchel says “Being able to struggle, learn, grow, and still express what’s inside you is what being in a rock band is about.”

But in the end, it’s all about the music.

While there may be distinct differences between the rock-band world of wailing guitar riffs and the orchestra world of soaring violin solos, it’s safe to say that both require discipline — a skill that offers lifelong benefits to every child.

As parents, one of the most important things we teach our children is about the rewards of persistence. “With consistency and hard work,” Norton says encouragingly, “their dreams can become more than just dreams. They can be reality.”

Enroll Your Child in Music Lessons: It’s as Easy as One, Two, Three …

Ready to turn the garage (or basement) into your kids’ all-new rock band practice room? First, find local schedules for music lessons for your child by visiting ActivityHero.

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Music

5 WORST Ways to Get Kids to Practice Music






You’re diligently paying for weekly music lessons, but your kid’s instrument sits idle during the days in between. Whyyyy!!!? Here, one expert shares the most common mistakes among parents (even the most well-intentioned) — and what you should do instead.

By Haley Burress

forcing-kids-to-practice-music
Do your children resist practicing their musical instrument at home, or do practice sessions end up with frustration (yours) and tears (your child’s)? You aren’t alone. Instrument practice is a lot like homework — it can feel tedious at times, and children don’t always see immediate results of their practice, which can make it seem pointless. But practice isn’t pointless, says Sharon Kenney, Director of Marketing and Communications at Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA). And time spent with the instrument each day can lead to consistent improvement in foundational skills, as well as in character traits like persistence and the patience required when dealing with delayed gratification.

If you are struggling to get your child to practice their instrument daily, you might be approaching it the wrong way. Here are the top five mistakes that Kenny says many well-meaning parents make and what to do instead to encourage musical practice at home.

Mistake 1: You chose the instrument or musical style for them.

Kids are more likely to enjoy their musical experience if they are allowed to choose their own instrument and musical style. Sure, you may have had dreams of playing piano duets with your child, but if your kiddo loves the saxophone instead, let him give it a try. The same holds true for musical styles; your jazz-loving daughter might never want to be a classical flautist. So let her explore her love for jazz. When encouraged to make their own choices, your children are more likely to welcome practice and develop a love for music in general.

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Mistake 2: You don’t schedule practice time.

Kenney encourages parents to schedule musical practice time into the family calendar. Just like homework, music practice shows the greatest results when done daily, and the teachers at CSMA recommend at least 15 to 30 minutes of practice time each day for children starting out with their instrument. Without a scheduled time in the family rhythm, practice will likely get pushed out of the day entirely. And don’t let your child convince you that band practice at school counts as his practice time, says Kenney, individual practice at home is the key to getting better and seeing results.

Mistake 3: You refuse to be flexible.

With all that scheduling of practice time, parents should also remember to be flexible and read their child. If your child is not concentrating during music practice or seems to be extra frustrated, take a moment to assess the situation. Will some outside play time help burn off the extra energy, or will a snack help improve concentration? Practice should be an overall good experience, and if that time is often ending in tears or screaming, your child will end up hating his musical instrument.

Mistake 4: You hover during practice times. A lot.

Practice time is not the best time for parents to sit and watch over their children. As with homework, it is wise to be readily available for help or to stay in touch with your child’s experience, but let your child work independently. Praise them when you hear something great or when you know that they are working hard. Encourage them to keep going if you feel them getting frustrated. But unless they request help, let them practice on their own. Kenny reminds parents to pay attention to the feedback that your child needs to succeed and stay on course. “You know your kids best — if they like to work independently and without help from adults, let them do so. In contrast, give a little extra help to children that require more of a hands-on approach.”

Kids-Piano

Mistake 5: There isn’t a consequence for not practicing.

Daily practice shouldn’t be optional at your home, and there should be consequences for skipping practice sessions. Kenney recommends establishing a family routine that includes both homework and music practice before evening screen time. If you aren’t sure if you child is practicing as he should be, his music instructor will be able to tell. Be sure to communicate and share expectations with your child and with your child’s instructor so that everyone is working toward the same goal.

Remember: Parents Need to “Practice” Patience, Too

When your child resists music practice at home, try to manage your frustration. Some pushback from kids is normal. However, with a few additions to your family schedule and some minor modifications to your practice-time philosophy, you should be able to decrease the whining within just a few weeks. Even better, your child will start to see the slow and steady results after consistent daily practices, which will benefit him in the music world and well beyond. Good luck!

This Will Be Music to Your Ears

Now it’s easier than ever to find a new music school for your child! ActivityHero offers thousands of listings, and we can show you the providers in your neck of the woods, along with their current class schedules.

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