- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 11, 2006

Our 6-year-old son has taken accordion lessons for almost nine months. He loved it at first, but his enthusiasm recently has waned. I have to tell him it’s time to practice, but when I do, he’s cooperative.

He also has started playing the piano on his own, even making up songs. His accordion teacher has recommended that we upgrade to a better instrument. Because his interest was falling off, we decided not to spend the money. However, when we told our son that we were thinking of switching him to piano lessons, he almost began to cry.

He said he would like to continue accordion lessons and take piano as well. Should we stick to our plan, or should we buy the new accordion and inform him that he has to practice every day?

A: Your son obviously is musically talented. If he wants to take both accordion and piano, bully for him. Concerning the former, however, you have it backward. You need to tell him that you must see him practicing on his present accordion every day, without being told, for a month before you will buy him a new accordion.

Q: Our son, a high school sophomore, continues to play with elementary school children in the neighborhood despite our asking him to hang with children more his age. We have offered to take him to his classmates’ homes or invite them over, but he has declined. We worry about his maturity level. Are we wrong to be concerned, and what, if anything, should we do?

A: This certainly is out of the ordinary, but in the absence of complaints from the younger children’s parents, I am unable to use the word “inappropriate.” If those parents thought anything untoward was happening, they surely would have told him not to come back and/or told you. He probably is a nice, if somewhat immature, boy who would be described as loving, sensitive, gentle and so on.

I can think of, and certainly have heard of more problematic things for children this age to be doing. You might thank your lucky stars that your son’s social immaturity is not expressing itself inappropriately, whether with younger or older children.

At this point in his life, he is more comfortable with younger children. As he gets older, I predict his social awkwardness around people his own age gradually will diminish and he will begin to find peers to whom he can relate.

In the meantime, if this is your biggest worry, you have next to nothing to worry about.

From the What’ll They Think of Next? Department: A recent issue of the journal of the California Teachers Association contains an article asserting that a “back to basics” curriculum isn’t exciting for children and that pressures to perform at proficiency level are creating behavior problems. In effect, CTA is saying teachers should not be pressured to work and students should not be pressured to learn.

California residents should keep that in mind the next time a school bond referendum comes up for a vote. “Edu-babble” of this sort is all the explanation one needs to understand why home-schooling is the fastest-growing education option in America.

Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his Web site (www.rosemond.com).

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