Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Getting kids to practice
I give a fair number of speeches these days. But even though I have given the same speech many, many times, I always practice beforehand. I've realized that part of being a polished public speaker is knowing your material so well that you can use your extra brain power to read the audience, riff off things they say, move faster through material if you see their attention lagging, etc. This makes getting up in front of a big group of people a fairly easy thing to do. And that makes speaking a lot more fun. I also know that practicing is a discipline I've come to somewhat later in life. I played the piano for years, but I never really wanted to devote large amounts of time to practice. I run, but I'm still not into doing the drills I know would make me faster. I do writing drills of sorts -- kind of what I consider my other blog -- and I can see my first drafts getting faster over time. So I know it works. I also know it's hard to embrace. And so I've been trying to figure out how to convey this idea to my son (who just turned 6 last week). We aren't doing any sports or music right now that would require a practice schedule. But his kindergarten class is putting on a play. He has a few lines and a song he sings by himself. He seems to like some of the other songs in the play much better. And so he'll practice the other songs a lot. But not the one he personally has to sing. I dislike nagging, or going all Tiger Mother on the concept of practice, so I've tried to just matter-of-factly say "Ok, we're going to run through your song once now and then once more after dinner." But he's resistant. Yesterday, I tried to explain exactly why we practice something like this. He may not like the song, but in two days, he'll be up on a stage and he'll need to sing it. And he'll feel much better being up there if he knows the words well enough that he can have a little fun. Things feel different on stage. Even if you vaguely know something in a practice situation, you have to really know it to not have being on stage affect you. Or, then again, maybe this will just be a good learning experience about why practicing matters. Do your kids practice music, sports, or other such things? Do they want to? If so, how do you go about encouraging this?