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#205022 - 11/15/05 07:36 PM I need help with teaching kids
SenseiMike Offline

Registered: 11/15/05
Posts: 7
I opened my dojo up in June in of this year, and at the start of this month I relocated to a much larger location, while My adult classes are going great, I just signd up my first child yesterday. Many years ago I taught the advanced kids classes for my taekwondo instructor, but those kids all had around a years worth of experience. How do I teach a 6 year old? the past 2 days we've had a lot of fun, but getting him to settle down and follow instruction isn't as easy as I'd like it to be. Anyone have any pointers? I could really use all the help I can get.

Thanks! Osu!

#205023 - 11/16/05 04:27 AM Re: I need help with teaching kids [Re: SenseiMike]
jabber Offline

Registered: 12/04/04
Posts: 95
Loc: UK
Hi SenseiMike,

Congrats on your new dojo - and good luck.

I don`t have much advice to offer.
I can just share the approach I see my sensei take with kids which is mainly large doses of postive re-inforcement at the start.
I`ve noticed that he gives them real praise for basic technique and this seems to spark an interest to learn more/recive more praise. No one student seems to get singled out for incorrect technique, always praise for correct technique and the group told as a whole if it is incorrect.
He shares some tradition with them when he gets them seated, seems to get them used to sitting still when he is speaking, as well as teaching them interesting history relating to their new interest, ( usuallly forced on them by parents).
Sensie does not allow one child to go off and `do his own thing`, the child in question is usually told to join the group straight away or taken aside and spoken to privately if this does not work. Usually a quiet private word works for the rest of that class.
Sensie rewards the students with patches which he himself wears on a gi he only wears teaching children.

Ohh must go late for work
Those are my principles, and if you don`t like them...well, I have others.

#205024 - 11/16/05 05:16 AM Re: I need help with teaching kids [Re: SenseiMike]
still wadowoman Offline
Improved beefier techno-prat

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 3420
Loc: Residence:UK- Heart:Md, USA
Hi Mike

One of the biggest challenges with the very young is holding their attention, I have found an hour is enough for most. Whereas older children and adults can spend a whole lesson working on one aspect, I find the very young get bored so I split the hour roughly as follows: 10 mins warm up, 15 mins line basics, 15 mins kata, 15 mins partner work and 5 mins cool down. Obviously this is not rigid, but you get the idea. Some instructors advocate playing games with them, I personally do not. I am not saying those that do are wrong, just that it is not the way I do it.

You have to remember that they have no idea how to behave in a dojo, but they do know how to behave in a classroom. Point out in the beginning that it is very similar (ie put your hand up if you want the teacher's attention, don't leave the room without permission, no chatting etc.). I find it helpful with a new class to teach them one or two dojo rules per lesson and ask them about it the following lesson, praising them if they have remembered, reminding them if they haven't.

Young children often don't know left from right, remember to indicate which is which everytime you say something like "step forward on the left"

They often misunderstand instructions. A prime example is step forward and punch. Some young children "shuffle" forwards. If they do, try saying "walk forwards"

Young children do not take criticism well so rather than tell them they are doing it "wrong" I tend to say something like "I can see how hard you are trying and you have improved a lot. Now if you just do this it will be even better" Save cirtcism for misbehaviour if you can - it will have more effect.

I never tell a child they cannot go to the bathroom, but whilst they are getting changed I do remind them all to go before the lesson begins. If they ask to go during the lesson I say yes, but remind them that they should have gone before the lesson.

Lastly, at some point you will have to deal with a badly behaved child (or several ) Each instructor has his/her own approach to this but this is what I have found works best. First offence that lesson I tell them their behaviour is unaceptable. Second offence I make them sit on the side (only for a very few minutes). I then ask if they would like to sit out the remainder of the lesson or join back in. The answer is usually join back in and they behave the rest of the time. If there is a third offence they sit out until their parent comes to collect them and I speak to the parent and child together about it. On the very rare occasion I have to speak to a parent twice in the same month I ban that child from class for a week. This has only happened around half a dozen times in over 8 years of teaching (and I teach children 4 times a week) and I have only ever had to permanently exclude three people, one of whom was an adult.

The foregoing are just my opinions, I hope some of it is useful. Good luck.
Anyone mind if I sit down?

#205025 - 11/16/05 10:10 AM Re: I need help with teaching kids [Re: SenseiMike]
SenseiMike Offline

Registered: 11/15/05
Posts: 7
thanks for the help

#205026 - 11/19/05 01:39 AM Re: I need help with teaching kids [Re: SenseiMike]
Malachi Offline

Registered: 11/03/05
Posts: 51
Loc: Seattle, Washington
congrats on the dojo!

I found that when teaching kids around that age, I had to set up a rule structure similar to still wadowoman's. And I would enforce it as soon as possible, like the first group with the kids. When you set the standard early on, it is usually far easier to maintain it then to have to clean up after bad habits are already instilled. I also found that when you had to enforce it with one child, usually the others stepped in line rather quickley.

I also agree with the smaller time frame - I sually did 30 minutes to 45 max. 30 is best for 6-8 yrs old in my experience. I would also alternate excersises in groups, interspersing with various 'karate' games. the martial arts obstacle course was their favorite (various excersises, like a kicking bag, striking pad, interspersed with jumping over this and ducking under that, they ate it up), punch and kcik practice, and technique. sparring I would actualy do in a different class, split it up so they didn't get too much stimulus at once. If they got too fidgity when doing technique, I would give them all a break with a race from one end of the dojo to the other. the key, I think, was variety, while keeping focus on the skills you were trying to teach that lesson. It's that same with adults, but with kids you have a shorter attention span so you just have to change pace a little more frequently.

Good luck

#205027 - 11/19/05 02:26 AM Re: I need help with teaching kids [Re: SenseiMike]
srv Offline
The OTHER forum Doctor

Registered: 11/16/05
Posts: 139
Loc: SA, Australia
I regularly help my instructor with teaching the kids classes. We have kids whose ages range from 5 - 15 at that class. With the young ones 5 - 8 it can sometimes be really difficult getting them to concentrate, pay attention etc. I agree with what the others have said. They have trouble concentrating on 1 thing for a long period of time so you need to regularly change what they're doing and also be flexible about your lesson plan if they're being difficult or losing concentration / interest. They also don't tend to enjoy spending time learning katas and prefer expending a lot of energy so doing short periods of kata teaching is good. As I said they love using up their energy so sending them on runs with fitness exercise as well as karate techniques (obstacle courses) or relays are good. Karate games are great. They love playing them and they're learning at the same time - eg games that encourage them to keep their hands up, stay in good stances, develop balance etc are all good. Sometimes for kata work if we don't have many instructors on a particular night, we'll pair up the Higher ranked juniors - browns and blacks with one lower ranked child and get them to work one on one teaching katas. As the instructors we can supervise this and help the lower ranks and younger kids with their stuff as well as giving the higher ranked / older kids some tips on teaching. This is great as it benefits both of them and often those young kids really look up to the older higher ranked kids and really love working with them. As I guess a rough lesson plan - warm up, some concentration stuff early - kata / basic techniques, something involveing a lot of energy eg sparring, runs, obstacle courses then finish up with some karate games.
Also kids of that age need heaps of encouragement or they'll get upset lose interest and often leave. Focussing on the positive things kids are doing rather than what they're doing wrong is really important. Also pointing out these good things in front of the whole class can really boost their confidence. If we see a white belt doing shadow sparring and keeping his hands up really well we may get him to demonstarte for the class and tell him and everyone else how fantastic he's doing. He feels great, and another white belt may try even harder so that they'll get focussed on next time. Also don't give up on those kids who are difficult to settle down. Doing martial arts will give a lot of these kids the discipline and respect that they need and may really benefit that kid in the long run which is incredibly rewarding to see. When you see a kid who was a badly behaved white belt grow as a person as they progress through the ranks and achieve things they never thought they could is fantastic. Hope this helps a bit.

#205028 - 11/30/05 11:47 AM Re: I need help with teaching kids [Re: SenseiMike]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
Loc: East Coast, United States
Is the young boy your ONLY child student? Where does he fit (class wise) exactl;y? There are dozens of factors involved...

Shorter classes, repetition, and sneaky repetition (oh and did I mention repetition) to name a few??? Children, any kids but especially children that young need modified instruction. They are NOT merely little adults... the expectation are different because of their age.

What types of challenges are you facing exactly?

#205029 - 12/17/05 10:02 AM Re: I need help with teaching kids [Re: SenseiMike]
Anpadh Offline

Registered: 04/19/04
Posts: 162
Loc: Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
I am not offering any advice but simply telling you what my experience is, in teaching anyone, kid or adult. First, the student must believe in his/her own heart that he/she is learning something worthwhile from you. And that is not just something that is up to the student. Secondly, the student must see and believe that there is a set discipline in learning -- that there are consequences to not doing things a certain way and that no amount of whining will change that. Finally, the student must believe that the teacher is fair. Amazingly enough, I have seen situations in which the whole class believes that one particular kid is being favoured by the instructor -- but the kid in question believes it is some other kid! So, nobody's happy. Now, how you go about convincing a kid that what he/she is learning (not what he/she is being taught) is worthwhile, that it needs discipline, and that you are rewarding him/her appropriately, is your business. All I am saying is that these three things are necessary. Kids feel the hurt and the pleasure more than adults even though, interestingly enough, kids are often less sensitive than adults are, to things that adults perceive as hurting the ego.

#205030 - 12/26/05 01:23 PM I need help with teaching kids [Re: SenseiMike]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Mike:

Old thread new month so where do things stand with this situation you were having a while back???

#205031 - 01/30/06 09:24 AM Re: I need help with teaching kids [Re: jabber]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello jabber:

I realize its been over a month since the last post to this thread, but its a good topic so I thought I'd try and rekindle it again....

Ummmngh... how many patches can a child/adult have before looking undignified, and billboard-ish ? If its even a minor incentive... how many can I (generic) possibly use without becoming a quilt!


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