How do you react when asked this question? Do you get asked it a lot? Do your parents seem unclear about their child's progress and how they can support them at home? Maybe you write reports at the end of each semester but find them extremely time-consuming, and they result in many more questions from parents as they try to understand the technical vocab you may have used ("so when you say they need to work on their fingering, what does that mean?!").
Providing feedback to parents is essential to so many aspects of teaching piano; with parents more engaged and involved in their child's learning, progress and retention are improved dramatically. This is because support at home leads to more practice, more practice leads to a higher sense of self-efficacy (a belief in one's self that they can achieve/succeed), and therefore higher retention rates and happy students!
However we also don't want to add a heap to our already huge workload (and I'm not just talking work-work, I'm talking housework, laundry, our own kids' homework, our dog walks, the list is endless!). So I am going to take you through what I do at the end of each workbook (term/semester) to provide formal feedback, but keeping it manageable (I have 136 students, so 'manageable' is a key word here!).
Before I take you through this, we need to rewind a little: before you can provide any meaningful feedback, you need to have some objectives. What are you expecting your students to learn? Do you have different levels? And objectives for each one? If not, this is where you need to start. The KeyNotes Music program has objectives for the 4-5 year olds ("Little KeyNotes") and then for the age 6+ (Principal KeyNotes), where there are Levels 1-5, each with their own set of objectives. Most of the objectives are piano-based, but there are some general music objectives that include aural perception and sight reading etc.
Each Level has its own report template that lists four key objectives that we have been focusing on that term/workbook. Next to the objective I simply use a traffic light system - green if their knowledge/skill is secure, yellow if they are getting there (inconsistent) and red if they are not yet meeting the objective ("keep trying"). I then have a box called "Next Steps" and I give a summary of what they have done well that term, then a next step - what will we be focusing on next term. If they have achieved all greens they will be moving to the next level for the following term. If they haven't, the parents can very quickly see what it is they need to work on.
Would you like an editable template of this report? Join our mailing list to receive this, plus a free lesson or template every week! This link will give you access to the report template in exchange for your email address. Download Report Template Here.
Other types of feedback
Of course there are many other ways in which you can engage and interact with parents (one of our main aims of giving feedback to them). These ideas are more informal but just as impactful.
- If you use My Music Staff or similar, you can send a quick note when you take the attendance (which you can go back on if you have already taken it during the lesson). I don't think parents would expect this every week, but when something notable has happened (either something that went really well, or an area where they needed support), parents will be able to either congratulate or support their child, both of which will impact positively on their progress.
- Writing in their book is a great way to enable parents to see what has happened during the lesson. I send out videos of the pieces and in these videos I will let parents know what the different difficulty levels/steps are. Then if the child moved to one of the more difficult challenges, I write this in their book so that they can make sure that is what they are practicing! I also write if there is an element they needed help with - a particular fingering circled etc.
- If you have permission to video, you can take a video of something that has gone particularly well and send it to parents.
Note that many of these points relate to when the student has done well as it is so important for the student and their parent to celebrate this, just as much (if not more so) as when the student needs further support.
I hope you have taken a few ideas from this; you probably use many of these ideas in your one-to-one lessons already, but it is just as important to implement them in a group setting.
If you would like to see some live video trainings, as well as lesson videos, it would be great to have you in my Facebook group: Group Piano Pioneers
That's all for now!