First thing's first...I am not a parent. However, I can offer observations from a third party who has witnessed many parent-child interactions before, during, and after voice lessons.
In my experience, students often have a strong preference: they'd either like their parent to wait upstairs or in the car, OR they don't mind having their parent sit in on lessons. I can't tell you how many times I've consoled a parent who was a little offended when their child looked at them and said, "Ok, you can go now." It's very normal!
Sometimes students want the privacy of a one-on-one lesson to make mistakes without hearing about them later at home. Sometimes they open up more when it's just the two of us. Sometimes they actually want to surprise their parents with a song. You name it, i've heard it!
Some students ask that their parents stay with them. I do recommend this for younger students! Sometimes they are very shy, and parents can help by offering more information.
My best advice is to ask your student if they would like you to stay or go. It is their lesson, and they should be able to choose what is most comfortable for them. If you ask instead of assume, they will feel like they have a little more independence in making a choice. Students don't always get the chance to choose things for themselves. Much of their day is planned for them with everyone else telling them what to do and how to do it. Wouldn't it be nice to give them a choice?
If you do stay:
Voice lessons are incredibly personal and the singer always feels vulnerable whether it's your first lesson or lesson # 876,5373. Their preference for you to stay or wait outside may change week to week. Please don't be offended if they ask you to leave, and please be as encouraging as possible if you do stay.
When I was in grade school, my mom or dad stayed in the room for the first couple of lessons until I felt comfortable. Then, they waited in the car until my lesson was complete or until I could drive myself. I cherished my one-on-one time with my voice teacher; it was always the highlight of my week. An adult that wasn't my parent took so much interest in me for a bit of time, and that was a huge confidence booster.
At home, please encourage practicing 3x a week. Singers are often afraid to practice if parents are home (remember, we are making and exploring new sounds that may not be so beautiful to start). Please don't assume that if you haven't heard them singing they are not practicing. There are many ways to practice: listening to their songs, thinking through acting choices, translating the lyrics into English, etc.
If you truly believe they are not practicing, please let me know! I often already know if a student hasn't practiced by their level of preparation for lessons :)
Thank you for allowing me to teach your student and for allowing an open dialogue about their progress!
Maria Palombo is a Voice Instructor and Singer living in Central NJ. She is the founder of Finely Tuned Voice Lessons, a private voice studio in Mercer County, NJ.