Choosing the right kids martial arts class.
I wanted to talk about a few key things you can look out for when deciding whether to put your child in to a martial arts class.
There is so much choice out there, how do you know if they are any good????
Websites and social media adverts don't always reflect how a kids class runs. It is a specialist area and having the right instructor or coach will make or break it's success.
Too many times I have heard from School owners "I hate teaching kids" and so they pass the responsibility on to Junior Assistants, who with no formal guidance just seem to spend the lesson fire fighting. A dislike of teaching will always reflect in the delivery and attitude of an Instructor within the class.
A black belt doesn't make someone a good coach, an understanding of people skills and good planning are the key skill set that ensures quality training and structured progression for your child.
A good kids instructor will have
1) A positive teaching style and atititude
2) Great interpersonal skills with the kids
3) A structured lesson
4) A great discipline system, which sets the boundaries for what is unacceptable in the class.
I have always said, when potential students phone me "Come along and see what we do". Putting your child into a class you haven't ever seen, seems madness to me. But this does happen!
When attending a free trial/Intro lesson there are some important things I recommend you look for:-
1) The atomsphere of the class - is it friendly, noisy, silent, out of control
2) How many coaches/Instructors does the class have? - a 1 to 6 is a good ratio of Instructors to kids.
3) How does the Instructor deliver their lesson - Friendly, Motivated, Confrontational, Aggressive, do they drone on.
4) Are the kids engaged? - Too many times I have seen kids switch off as the way instructors deliver a drill is just not exciting.
5) What kind of feedback is the Instructor giving during a drill? - Are they correcting, praising, ignoring, confusing, over correcting, disciplining.
6) Is there any down time? - If the class is not moving at a good pace and switching between drills, then that's when the kids get distracted and bored. Trying to get back their attention is difficult.
7) How do the kids interact with the Instructor? Kids are very perceptive and can spot weakness very easily. If an Instructor has not set any boundaries, then kids feel it's ok to answer them back or mess around. When disciplining a student if they don't follow through, then kids don't respect their authority.
I have been teaching kids for 25 years and over this time I have made every mistake in the book. Children's Instructors need guidance and a formula to give them confidence. This is the responsibility of their Instructors.
If a class is chaotic and an Instructor is fire fighting to be heard, then avoid this class. If the class is silent and the Instructor aggressive, it means they are scared of losing control. This lack of confidence is shielded by barking at students to maintain order in the ranks. I would avoid this type of class. Disciplining a child the right way is an art form, you don't want to crush their confidence but also make them realize the choice they made was unacceptable.
The best classes in my view are the ones which the children leave with a smile and want to come back.They are learning a life skill and this needs a qualified instructor to help them. An Instructor who has their best interests first, who takes the time to plan classes and delivers them in a motivated and excited way.
Someone who the children respect and know they are firm but fair when having to discipline. In summary a good role model. Do you want your child to be like the Instructor who teaches them? I remember in the karate kid movie, Mr Mayagi saying "No such thing as a bad student, only bad teacher. Teacher say student do". He's was absolutely spot on.
Think about the reason why you are putting your child in to martial arts and do you think this Instructor is right for them? You don't have to know anything about martial arts to make that call, the way they conduct themselves will give you the answer.