Martial Arts for Kids: Finding the Right Instructor for Your Children
As a parent it can be difficult to know what to look for when checking out martial arts programs. Not every instructor is Mr. Miyagi. When looking for an instructor, there are four factors to consider. They are clientele, curriculum, instructor and style.
When you walk into the martial arts studio, take a look at who else is studying there. If there is no one near your child’s age, your child is going to have a difficult time with classes. While a class with children and adults is a sign of a family program, a class with no children is a sign of a studio that will be too physically demanding for your child.
Once you have found a child-friendly studio, find out about the curriculum. Many schools offer belts every few weeks or months, as well as patches and other rewards. Systems with more belts and rankings have a better chance of retaining a child’s interest over the long term. You should also take time to find out what is expected of you and your child. There are often additional testing fees and sometimes students must write papers to advance. Find a system where you and your child will be able to meet the expectations of the system, and that rewards your child for effort at reasonable intervals.
Third, check out the instructors. When looking for an instructor, look for one that engages the students. When a student needs to be corrected, pay attention to how that correction is handled. Is he firm, but kind? Or is he verbally abusive? While you cannot expect all instructors to be warm and fuzzy, you should expect them to set an example of respect. If the instructor does not show respect to his students, your child will not be able to respect him and will most likely be miserable in class.
Often parents will have their heart set on karate because they saw The Karate Kid, or tae kwon do because they watched it during the Olympics. Style should take a backseat to the three factors above, but if you have the luxury of a number of good schools in the area, do some research on which style would be best for kids. Styles like Aikido and krav maga are going to be less well-suited to children than karate and tae kwon do.
Martial Arts is Fun for the Whole Family!
There are many factors to consider when shopping for a martial arts instructor. For children the martial arts experience should be more like being on the soccer team than on the drill team. Finally, keep in mind that children who attend classes with other family members end up staying twice as long as children who take classes by themselves. Consider signing up with your kids and enjoying the fun together!