Overburdened student II

This week one of my students came to class with her eyes half wet and slightly trembling. I asked her what happened and she looked down and broke out in tears. Anna is a student I love teaching because she tries so hard each and every lesson. After she calmed down a bit, she said, “My mother yells at me for not being ready for my classes and these days it seems like everything I do is wrong.”

I recently wrote a blog on overburdened children who are often balancing eight or more activities per week on top of their schooling. This is a major pain for teachers, coaches and the kids who undergo these hefty schedules. I have started to wonder if there could be a positive outcome from this situation.

What if all teachers, coaches and parents could connect as a developmental team who personalize their children’s short and long term programming? Everyone could upload videos or short remarks about a student on their profile. After a class or activity all of these points of feedback would come together to inform parents of patterns in their child’s development. If necessary, coaches and teachers could meet or they can simply communicate common goals in the child’s programming.

I told Anna, who is 9, that her mother just wants her to do well. “Your mother loves you and says what she says because she believes it will make you stronger and better.” It registered in her mind and she calmed down.

As a child developer who works in music, I natually isolate my student’s learning of music. I try to avoid this, but without a system of connection and insight it’s especially difficult. What if I could leverage the knowledge, insights and relationships of the other teachers, coaches and leaders in their life? What innovations in the child’s developmental programming would come from that insight and how would that effect the child?

This holistic approach may be a new way for educators and coaches of all kinds to provide exponentially better service. To be specific:

If I talked with Anna’s dance teacher and she says that Anna is having trouble dancing with others and I also am observing that in music theory, could we design her programming in a way that improves her teamwork? Could we talk with her tennis coach and synchronize Anna’s plans to have her:

1. Music: Play duets in piano and do group projects for theory

2. Dance: Choreograph a dance with two others from her academy

3. Tennis: Get assigned a partner for doubles

With a unified and personalized programming like this, how would this help Anna to develop her teamwork ability? How would that effect her confidence to know that all her coaches and teachers are constantly working to help her overcome her challenges? Would the improved communication lower the pressure she feels?

As educators and child developers I believe we have a moral obligation to see that the children we serve are continuously improving. But I often feel that my hands are tied with no access to other parts of the student’s life. We only see the end result – the overburdened student.

For now, I can emotionally support students like Anna as they battle their schedules and tell parents if I see a decline in the student’s performance – what would you do?


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