Children learn better when they are taught with supervision as opposed to adults. Self-help books, videos and online learning tools are better geared towards adults than children who lack the discipline and focus needed to retain technical information.
Children need the supervision of an instructor who can point out mistakes objectively and praise them consistently to help aid in success.
If lessons seem like a chore or practicing seems like "homework," the child will quickly lose interest. Adults can also benefit from the aid of an instructor who, as with children, can offer constructive criticism and praise to aid in gauging successes. Tutors can also share personal success stories and frustrations, which can serve as a motivational tool.
It is possible for adults to learn from listening and watching their favorite artists, as this method creates an atmosphere of “fun” and makes “practicing” more entertaining.
In addition to learning guitar basics, children need to practice hand strengthening exercises since their hands are weaker and more prone to blistering than an adult hand. Adults can benefit from the exercises as well, but it is highly recommended for the child taking lessons.
The types of guitars for children that work best when their hands are large enough to hold the neck of the guitar are ½ and ¾ sized guitars. Nylon strings are easier on the children's fingers and mellower sounding. Electric guitars are easier to learn and play than an acoustic guitar for children. Acoustic guitars are more complex and are better suited for teens to adult-hood.
Starting off, children should learn with a small ½ and ¾ sized instrument and tune them to an "open 5th", two-note chord, teaching them three to four chorded songs and open 5th tuned instruments. The beauty of learning this chord and tuning is that the child can easily strum along to the songs and accompany the key of the music.
This method in teaching beginning children's guitar will work the best in getting the feel of the guitar for the child. The easiest songs for children to learn are one chord songs such as "Row Row Row Your Boat", "Its Raining, Its Pouring", "A Tisket a Tasket", and "Rain, Rain Go Away". They simply just "open strum" the C chord, so you can immediately move into two chord songs in the second lesson.
Adults can learn these songs to start off, but more challenging beginner songs for adults can be almost any three-chorded song you find on alternative radio today. About.com's guitar guru Dan Cross has a full list of easy songs for adults alphabetically listed by artist. Every artist from AC/DC to ZZ Top is listed and sorted out by decade.
Self help books; video tape and online learning aids work best for adults and children need the help of a tutor to nurture their success with staying focused and keeping their love of playing going into adulthood.
Start children off with smaller instruments and two-note chords. Keep lessons engaging and entertaining to create the passion and interest in guitar alive well into adulthood.