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-   -   Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class? (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20700)

GeorgeDonnelly 01-11-2012 05:01 PM

Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Today was the first day of aikido for the year after a month's vacation. Sensei, whom I respect very much, was harsher than normal with the kids.

And then he suggested I no longer hang around during the class but instead drop my 5 y/o son off and come back at the end.

I also train with him and I notice there is certain pressure both in the adult class and now in even my son's class to take exams later this month. My son and I both have about 6 weeks of study under our belts and the exam pressure seems too soon and too much.

Are these common situations in your dojos? I'm feeling a little uncomfortable with it and am looking for a point of reference, since I'm so new to this.

kewms 01-11-2012 05:12 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Maybe I'm a cynic, but...

Pressure to take exams sounds suspiciously like pressure to provide testing fees: the instructor is feeling financially squeezed and sees tests as a source of revenue. Certainly 6 weeks is not very much time at all; our first adult test has a 3-month minimum time requirement.

While it's true that some kids are more able to focus if their parents aren't around, I'd also be very concerned about a blanket suggestion that parents not be around during class. Most of the kids' instructors I know encourage parents to be more involved, not less.

In other words no, you're not crazy. Especially in your son's case, there's much to be said for trusting your instincts.

Katherine

GeorgeDonnelly 01-11-2012 05:39 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Thanks, I appreciate your comments. The testing fees are very cheap. And I don't really think it's an economic thing.

Keith Larman 01-11-2012 05:49 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Exam frequency, etc. varies from school to school. So no comment there.

I won't leave my 11-year-old daughter unattended at any practice of any sort other than her school. And as a person who teaches aikido to children I would rather the parents stay. Just being there can be moral support. And I've had kids have accidents (as in wet their pants) and I'd rather the parents deal with that sort of thing.

Sure, I get that sometimes there's only so much room and parents have things to do, but...

That said I would never suggest a parent leave a child that young while in class unless it happens to be the child of someone I know very, very well. I do have parents who drop off the children and run errands, however.

A question that comes up in my head is whether the child is looking to you for guidance or advice during class. Or if you're occasionally a "sideline sensei". In those cases I've asked parents to step outside and watch through the window... :)

A few years ago I asked a rather enthusiastic dad if he'd like to get on the mat and just teach the class for me. He ended up sitting quietly after that.

robin_jet_alt 01-11-2012 06:05 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
I agree with everyone else so far. I would definitely be concerned if the teacher didn't want you there. However, I can hazard a guess as to what (s)he is thinking. Perhaps (s)he is concerned about 'helicopter parents'. I have certainly seen a number of parents turn up at dojos and start training in order to be with their kids. Some are fine, but there have been a few who take it upon themselves to push their children too hard, and discipline their children inappropriately for failures that are perfectly understandable (aikido is difficult after all). The worst ones are the ones who have no prior knowledge of aikido and insist on teaching their children anyway.

I'm not suggesting that you are one of the parent, and in fact you sound like quite the opposite, but I am just trying to get some insight into what your sensei is thinking. Have you asked the sensei why they don't want you there?

GeorgeDonnelly 01-11-2012 07:25 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Keith, yes, today I was a sideline sensei a little because I sensed my son was uneasy in class. But I told him after class I would stop that immediately. Another parent told me it is a general policy of his to discourage parents from attending tho. I guess he just never told me about it before.

(On a sidenote, my son also takes karate (yes I know there is an incompatability here but he loves it and I won't make him give it up) and the moms really get into it sometimes telling their kids what to do but the sensei there doesn't mind it. He just ignores it.)

Robyn, he told me that parents just being present is a distraction for the child, however small, and that he can't help the child reach their potential if he doesn't have their undivided attention.

He is a very brusque sensei at times, which may be normal, and he mentioned that there is an emotional bubble of sorts that kids have to overcome in order to progress. (I sort of get this because I hit that bubble of frustration and emotion in my own training a lot.)

I speculate that he doesn't feel comfortable being tough with the kid's parent right there.

Janet Rosen 01-11-2012 07:34 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
There is a difference between firmness and meanness. There is a difference between "toughness" and abuse. Challenge appropriate to age/development and to individual is one thing - and no teacher can guage that in less than 6 weeks! - but children (and adults) who learn in a setting that is too stressful incorporate fear and stress into their practice rather than learning the relaxation that one should be practicing with.
Only you, there, with your kid, can judge if it is a good environment in which your kid to be, with or without you there.

Mary Eastland 01-11-2012 08:01 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
I'd stay.

GeorgeDonnelly 01-11-2012 08:03 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
For me, and I get the sense my son is having a similar experience, it's like being thrown into the fire with little or no preparation. A significant amount of being pushed into things we don't seem to be ready for. (But maybe that's just how aikido is done?) For example, mae ukemi and ushiro ukemi (I think - it was a backwards roll).

My son doesn't get mae ukemi yet (and just came back after the dojo being closed for a month). He was trying to do a basic forward roll with just one hand (i.e., attempting mae ukemi) and was hurting himself doing it and sensei said to just keep trying. While sensei was later showing him ushiro ukemi, sensei seemed to lose patience with him and sent him off to do seiza. My son burst into tears. Later he called him back to try again and my son did it correctly a couple times.

I get a general sense of sensei being in a terrible rush and already on the first day of a class made up of 5-7 year olds. I don't understand why.

I'm training with a bunch of more advanced students and I identify with your comment about there being more stress and fear than calm, Janet. Thanks.

George S. Ledyard 01-11-2012 09:35 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
We go out of our way to encourage parents to be present and not just think of the dojo as a form of day care. We have an are afor siblings to play or do homework, we have free wifi. These days I pretty much would prefer my instructors not be alone in te dojo with minors. I want the parents to be able to see the interactions between the instructor and the kids for themselves... this can avoid major unpleasantness. legal and otherwise. It definitely protects the instructor.

I would be wary of any teacher who seemed to not want the parents around.

robin_jet_alt 01-11-2012 10:54 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Quote:

George Donnelly wrote: (Post 300603)
For me, and I get the sense my son is having a similar experience, it's like being thrown into the fire with little or no preparation. A significant amount of being pushed into things we don't seem to be ready for. (But maybe that's just how aikido is done?) For example, mae ukemi and ushiro ukemi (I think - it was a backwards roll).

.

That's not just how aikido is done. I certainly wouldn't push a 5y.o. to do anything, and even with an adult, I think it is a very bad idea to push them past their limits when learning ukemi (all of my sensei's so far agree with this). I would be a bit concerned about this dojo.

David Orange 01-11-2012 11:24 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Quote:

George S. Ledyard wrote: (Post 300607)
These days I pretty much would prefer my instructors not be alone in te dojo with minors. I want the parents to be able to see the interactions between the instructor and the kids for themselves... this can avoid major unpleasantness. legal and otherwise. It definitely protects the instructor.

I would be wary of any teacher who seemed to not want the parents around.

You said it all. I would not let parents drop kids off and leave them with me. And I certainly wouldn't leave my kids unattended with any adult outside school. Not a preacher or a coach...or a martial arts teacher.

But I'm also worried a bit by the harshness of George Donnelly's teacher--especially with little kids. It sounds like something is bothering him and he might not ought to be working with kids. Or maybe he needs some help with them. Also sounds like he could consider how he's teaching ukemi.

Best wishes.

David

Eva Antonia 01-12-2012 03:19 AM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Hello,

I've seen both approaches, and I think it's best to be flexible.

In the dojo in Turkey where I train in summer, parents are welcome, and those who practice aikido are always invited to participate to kids classes and help the teacher. But that never means that they would interfere by pushing the kids or wisecracking etc. I think it is very nice as it is, and parents who don't want to stay or step on the mat are not pushed to do so.

In the dojo in Brussels we had kids classes together with adults classes until September, and then they were split. Some parents come and watch, others just drop off their kids, and some kids come alone and go alone. Previously we also had parents who practiced with their kids, but currently I am the only one. But then I rather prefer helping the other kids than meddling with mine because I don't want to undermine the teacher's authority.

I've never seen a sensei pushing a kid (or an adult) to perform techniques he doesn't feel ready for, and if my kid would tell me such a thing I'd most probably wish to witness the situation, too. Teachers should have understanding for parents' concerns about the security of their kids, and I think, most do.

On the other hand, I do not see why parents should always be present with their kids. Certainly a dojo is not daycare, but then, why would a 7 year old or a 11 year old need daycare? My kids go alone to school, music school, swimming, or their friends since they are 6 - 8 years old (depending on the kid's personality, the distance and the type of activity...), and when no one is at home, they also have a key and enter the house. I don't expect kid abusers behind every tree, and I sincerely hope that my and most other kids are smart enough to recognise in time when someone is behaving weirdly. Moreover, I don't think that adults are more dangerous for kids than other kids or teenagers, to the bullying, abuse or simply bad behaviour of whom they are exposed during schooltime and often without teachers always being present to protect them.

Here in Belgium we have aikido seminars for kids which are in a sort of boarding school for sports, kids are away from home for one week, and never ever any parents would come with the kids and sleep over there. I suppose the kids would not appreciate such an endeavour at all! My biggest son went when he was 8, 9 and 10 years old, and he had very much fun. Afterwards, unfortunately, he dropped aikido, but now the little siblings are very enthusiastic to go to this seminar because he praised it so much. I do not believe in overprotecting your kids, and when they are never exposed to situations of whatever nature, they will never learn to deal with them. And whatever you are afraid that will happen to them still may happen, just later...This doesn't mean I wouldn't have the usual mom fears, such as thinking of all sorts of accidents when the kid is 5 minutes late - but I think that is the price to pay for letting your kids free.

Best regards,

Eva

Mark Freeman 01-12-2012 03:34 AM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Quote:

George Donnelly wrote: (Post 300589)
Are these common situations in your dojos? I'm feeling a little uncomfortable with it and am looking for a point of reference, since I'm so new to this.

Hi George,

No, not in mine. We have a strict rule that no teacher can be alone with a class of minors, so the teacher always has an assistant.. Parents are encouraged to stay (but not to make any comments from the sidelines).

Our grading of kids has a minimum of 4 months between each grading and there is no pressure for them to progress. Encouragement, yes, pressure no. They are kids, if they are enjoying their practice, they will progress naturally with decent instruction. I don't get the purpose of pressure at such a young age.

5 years of age is very young to be practicing 2 martial arts, though.

Already you have had some good replies, that may help your decision making. You have to trust your own feelings in this situation. If you are uncomfortable with it all, you have to decide if it is the right environment for your son.

Adults can deal with the pressure to grade, but even here, some are not well equipped. Is there some sort of race to win out there, does reaching a grade sooner, make things better?

regards,

Mark

GeorgeDonnelly 01-12-2012 06:59 AM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Thanks everyone. I appreciate it. I told sensei there was no way I would just drop off my son (tho many other parents do that) but that I would (as he alternatively suggested) sit on the floor in a hallway where I could still hear the class and ocassionally poke my head into the practice area.

If the situation continues, I'll look for a new dojo.

Mark, I didn't realize 5 would be young for 2 martial arts. My son enjoys them both tho and I've told him he can quit anytime. Besides doing yoga at home, they're the only two physical activities ("sports" stuff) he's doing.

lbb 01-12-2012 07:41 AM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Sideline coaching by parents is a problem, no matter how you slice it. Either the coaching is unnecessary and a distraction, or -- in the case where your son was having problems with ukemi and you felt you had to advise him because what he was told to do wasn't safe -- the coaching he's getting from his sensei is inadequate, and you need to go elsewhere.

There are a lot of different ways that "martial arts" can be taught to young kids, and that "work". I put both words in quotes because when you're talking about young kids, those definitions have to be pretty loose -- you're unlikely to be able to teach martially effective techniques to a five-year-old, and if you somehow do, that creates another problem. A "martial arts" class for kids can serve the functions of exercise, socialization, learning how to handle structure in a different environment, and just plain having fun. When either parents or teacher become fixated on the quality of the kids' techniques, you're headed for disaster. Most kids of that age are simply not capable of working in that way, conceptualizing an ideal of what a certain technique is supposed to be and working at continuous improvement toward that ideal. Even with the few kids who grasp the idea of technique and want to get better, I've observed that they only want to train like this some of the time. They are as eager for the "aikido games" as the other kids, and as eager to run off the mat at the end of class and do kid stuff with the other kids, most times.

GeorgeDonnelly 01-12-2012 07:56 AM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
I found it curious that both I in the adult class and my son in the young kids class are learning largely the same technique and in similar ways. I expected the kids class to be more kidsy.

(I'm not usually a sideline sensei, I think my instincts took over yesterday because of my son's uneasiness, his getting hurt without being corrected and the sensei's unusual attitude during class. After class, when I noted that he seemed frustrated during class, he just laughed at me.)

EDIT: Sensei demonstrated mae ukemi but for a beginner it can be very hard to really understand it. I still can't do it, for example.

philipsmith 01-12-2012 08:26 AM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Agree with most of the comments so far.

We positively encourage parents to sit and watch - some do some don't but it's THEIR CHOICE!

Keith Larman 01-12-2012 08:27 AM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Mr. Donnelly

As someone who's taught kids Aikido for a number of years let me make two observations.

One is that kids take time to learn things, just like adults. Some things they will crash right in to, others they will hesitate. Sometimes it just takes time and I for one am more than happy to have a kid try something new a few times, give them encouragement, but then simply let them be. More often than not the next time we do it they'll do just fine -- they just needed time to think about it, to feel comfortable, or to simply have a new time where they felt more confident. Patience.

Second thing is after saying #1 above, if you're not comfortable or if you think the sensei is allowing dangerous situations to happen on the mat with your child, go somewhere else. You are a parent first and foremost. Yes, you need to have some trust in the sensei's knowledge and experience, but if you clearly think you need to intervene in a class your child shouldn't be in it. I would take no offense if a parent felt something we were doing was too much and pulled their child. I would talk with them to try to understand where they're coming from. But it is their child and as a parent myself I fully understand. This whole "do whatever Sensei says" stuff is fine for some things, but if you as a parent are concerned about your child then maybe your child shouldn't be there.

Hanna B 01-12-2012 10:09 AM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
I never taught kids. But personally I'd expect rolls to be much more challenging for most grownups than for most 5yearolds. The distance to the mat is much smaller, and their bodies are light. Even if they slam into the tatami there's not much power developed. They haven't developed fine motor control yet, so technically it is more difficult for them, but they are mostly unafraid in a way grownups arent't.

I remember my mom, talking to me about how challenging it was to jump from the higher one of the diving boards, clearly not expecting me to make it although all the other kids did it. Did I want to try after that? Not really. It was the opposite of pep talk.

If I had a parent and a kid in classes and the parent doesn't learn ukemi fast, I might assume the kid would learn quicker without the parent watching since the parent's negative associations about how difficult this is would affect the child. Still I think it's not a clever thing to say, asking parents to stay away from watching kids' class. But the teachers' intentions might be the best. And if you're interfering "from the sidelines" I could well understand his reaction of not wanting you around. Either you trust him to teach your son, or you don't. If you don't, then take your kid off his class.

Quote:

George Donnelly wrote: (Post 300603)
My son doesn't get mae ukemi yet (and just came back after the dojo being closed for a month). He was trying to do a basic forward roll with just one hand (i.e., attempting mae ukemi) and was hurting himself doing it and sensei said to just keep trying. While sensei was later showing him ushiro ukemi, sensei seemed to lose patience with him and sent him off to do seiza. My son burst into tears. Later he called him back to try again and my son did it correctly a couple times.

To me, that sounds too harsh. Being good at aikido does not necessarily mean being good with kids. But of course I wasn't there so it's difficult to judge.

How does the kid feel about it afterwards? Have you asked? Does he so far find training fun or just frustrating?

Phil Van Treese 01-12-2012 01:20 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
I always ask if the parents want to stay. Also, if the parents have any questions they should feel free to ask them. After class if the parent(s) want to discuss anything, I am for that too. I don't allow sideline coaching. That will hurt the student and disrupt the class.

GeorgeDonnelly 01-12-2012 03:20 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Hanna, the kids class is just for the kids. I don't participate in the class. My son was upset after the class but quickly forgot about it (as kids tend to do) and wants to continue going to class.

The sensei doesn't want just me to not be present, he encourages all parents to not stay and watch.

I haven't actually said anything negative to my son about aikido. I tell him he is doing great and to keep working on it.

Either I trust the sensei or not, well I have a lot of respect for him but he was acting quite unusual yesterday. I personally don't think it's such a simple matter as to paint it in black and white as do I trust him or not. I'm new to this and still figuring it out. Plus, there are not many dojos around here and my son and I are both excited about aikido's uniqueness.

kewms 01-12-2012 04:12 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Quote:

George Donnelly wrote: (Post 300683)
Either I trust the sensei or not, well I have a lot of respect for him but he was acting quite unusual yesterday. I personally don't think it's such a simple matter as to paint it in black and white as do I trust him or not.

Sure it is. Are you comfortable leaving your son alone with this man? If not -- and every post you've made suggests that you're not -- then you need to either insist on being present during class or go elsewhere. Aikido's uniqueness shouldn't trump that very fundamental issue.

Katherine

Hanna B 01-12-2012 04:19 PM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
Quote:

George Donnelly wrote: (Post 300683)
Hanna, the kids class is just for the kids. I don't participate in the class.

I understood it as you train for the same teacher, but in different classes.

Quote:

George Donnelly wrote: (Post 300683)
My son was upset after the class but quickly forgot about it (as kids tend to do) and wants to continue going to class.

Well then. There's time to decide.

GeorgeDonnelly 01-13-2012 10:21 AM

Re: Do Senseis Usually Not Want Parents Around During Class?
 
My son confessed that he feels scared all the time in the class so we're looking for a new dojo, hopefully with specific beginners classes. Thanks everyone.


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