The Seven Concepts of Suzuki Early Childhood Education

There are seven concepts that form the philosophical backbone of the Suzuki ECE class. These concepts are the the core beliefs of each Suzuki ECE teacher, and the manifestation of each of these concepts is visible in every class we teach.

I recently wrote a series of weekly emails to families in our program briefly highlighting how we see these ideas in action, so I thought I’d collect them all here to share with you.

The Seven Concepts of Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Every child can learn
Ability develops early
Environment nurtures growth
Children learn from one another
Success breeds success
Parental involvement is critical
Encouragement is essential

EVERY CHILD CAN LEARN

Every child develops musical ability in the same way they learn their native language.  The learning involves listening, repetition, and encouragement, with words and musical ability being added and layered upon week by week, without anything ever being discarded. Every child, regardless of age, musical background, etc., will be able to develop this musical literacy in the same way they learn their mother tongue. Learning depends on the environment, so we are always doing our very best to create a calm environment that will allow learning to take place.
I think it’s also important to remember that, since your participation as parents is so important, every parent has the ability to nurture this learning. We as teachers are here to facilitate this with the structure of the weekly classes and carefully chosen curriculum, but there are no special skills required of you as parents. If you model behavior for your child during class, and take the songs home and listen and sing them daily, your child will develop finely.

Today, since it was the first class for many, it was fun to see the children exploring and discovering the songs and the environment. It was great to hear voices and suggestions so soon from some of the kids! There is never any pressure for the kids to “perform,” however. They will demonstrate their ability at home much sooner than they will in class, so if they are hesitant, you can jump right in with your voice to help them feel safe. They’re learning by hearing you sing too!


ABILITY DEVELOPS EARLY
           Children are learning and absorbing everything in their environment from the earliest of days. We often think of ability as solely limited to demonstrable, performed skills, but the most important skill for a young child is the ability to listen carefully. Jack* was a great example of that yesterday as we played the drum with him – he had quiet focus in his eyes as he watched everyone follow his sound, and he was paying such close attention to the drum itself and the quality of the resonant tone it was making.
           This ability to listen carefully is one of the main reasons that we strive to create a calm learning environment. It’s difficult to focus your listening attention if there’s lots of extra noise and stimulation.  It’s also the reason we attempt to minimize the talking and explaining, and instead give as many musical and non-verbal cues as possible. That way, students are able to focus on the music itself and are not working extra to process additional language.

ENVIRONMENT NURTURES GROWTH
           Children take in and learn from everything in their environment. Knowing this, in the SECE class we as teachers and parents do our best to create a calm, positive, and encouraging environment without any pressure to perform.

CHILDREN LEARN FROM ONE ANOTHER

It always amazes me how much children pick up from their friends in class, and today was no different! Often the fun of experiencing class with friends is the biggest motivator to try out new ideas.  This is also why it is so beneficial to have a multi-age class – the littler ones look up to and imitate the big kids, and the big kids learn sensitivity and develop empathy from being around the younger ones. I especially loved the “Little White Duck” song today. We had lots of imitating of the animal actions – the kids were watching each other closely and picking up on the different verses of the songs.


SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS

Jill* was a great example of this today with her strawberries and cheese turn on the lollipop drum and her steady beat keeping all by herself on the woodblock! She has practiced these skills for a long time, and just like the carrot in our book, “The Carrot Seed”, we’re seeing more and more “above ground” every class. First, the child experiences success being led by the teacher. Once they’ve celebrated this step, they might spend a while doing the skill, but with the comfort of the teacher or parent alongside. After those successes, they may even do it all by themselves! Of course, all of this is led by the individual child’s development, but the important part is that the skills build on one another. This is why we have a steady, repeating curriculum that doesn’t change – the repetition is crucial to success!


PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT IS CRITICAL
         It can never be said too often – you as parents are your children’s first and most important teachers! Your active involvement in this class is absolutely critical to their growth. Not only do children love to hear you sing and see you dance, they are learning the most from that modelling.  You all have been doing so beautifully – thank you for your singing voices and willingness to dance and enjoy.  Children will mimic what you do, so one day, after hearing you sing, watching you do the actions, and even sometimes taking turns on the instruments, they will feel safe and confident enough to sing or play on their own!

ENCOURAGEMENT IS ESSENTIAL
       I love every moment when a child has an exciting or successful turn, and they immediately turn back to their grown up to see your smile and get a hug!  It’s so crucial to have that reinforcement of a job well done.  The joy of learning is invaluable and if that encouraging foundation is solid, it should serve you and your child for a long time.
*Names changed

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