Teaching With a Baby/Toddler
Any input or advice for teaching students while you have an infant/toddler at home with you? How do you keep your child(ren) occupied during the lesson? How many students were you able to teach per week? Thoughts?
My wife and I teach university chemistry, not private violin lessons, but the strategy we used was to leave our children with a licensed day care while we went to work. I think that if my violin teacher was having to deal with a baby or young toddler throughout every lesson, I'd be looking for a different teacher, especially if there were more than one or two disturbances per lesson or if they were lengthy. If it's just an occasional thing because of something that came up (e.g., day care was closed that day), that would be easily forgiven. But when I am paying for an hour of someone else's undivided attention, then that's pretty much what I expect to get. I'm not wild about teachers who take three or four calls on their phone during lessons either.
I agree with Paul. When my children were little, I only scheduled lessons when they were either at daycare or when my husband was home to be with them. I do remember one lesson where my husband had an emergency, and I had a child playing quietly with his Thomas the tank engine set on the other side of the room where I taught.
Agree with all of the above, but I sympathize with you. Childcare is absurdly expensive, probably much more than than your per hour charge for lessons.
I'm sitting here with jaw on the floor, trying to imagine childcare that costs more than lessons do. I remember paying $10/hour for an evening sitter when our children were little; I'm sure it's gone up since then but surely not by a factor of five to ten.
Essentially, you can only work when someone else is attending to your child.
@Mary Ellen, while I agree with you about hourly wages, that's not the only factor. If you have a fairly full studio, then you need long blocks of dependable child care. A violin teacher probably can't make use of licensed facilities because those are usually 8-5 type operations, which leaves you in the lurch during optimal late-afternoon and early-evening teaching hours for school-aged children. In my neighborhood, there would not be nearly enough willing teenagers to provide 20 hours per week of "mother's helper" services. If you only teach between 3:30 and 5:00 PM, then you can use a licensed facility but usually you cannot purchase just the time interval you need -- you have to buy the whole week, and that sometimes several months in advance.* So I can see this being a difficult challenge for a young mother whose livelihood depends on private teaching. I still wouldn't tolerate the continuous presence of a baby or toddler in my lessons.
If there is a shortage of teens who might be willing mother's helpers in the OP's neighborhood, and if she cannot schedule lessons when a spouse or partner is going to be home, then I see only two options:
"It was such a relief when my children were finally old enough to be trusted on their own."
Coming from a community in which it was somewhat normal for moms to teach with their kids at home ("neighborhood piano teacher" type of thing) and I had several friends who seemed to make it work--I tried and tried and thought I should be able to make it work and absolutely could not. Young kids need mom to be available. Students need teacher to be focused. Trying to do both made a good outcome for nobody.
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