Originally posted by PeterR
Good luck in finding someone who condemms teaching Aikido to children.
Personally I think young children (4-9) in general would be better served by another art other than aikido. Children at such a young age tend to respond/learn more from a striking arts such as karate-do, tae-kwon-do and capoeira.
I'm especially a strong supporter of capoeira. I went to the park one day just to relax and I saw some guys gathering around a radio playing Brazilian music with a strong drum beat. They slowly began to Jinga, and perform some of their handstand kicks and aerial moves that the art is famed for. Within five minutes every young child in the park was gathered around them. They were attracted to the music, the cartwheels, and joyful nature of the art. The guys not in the middle of the circle began teaching the kids and they picked it up amazingly fast. For the kids it was just playing, it was natural. They where just doing cartwheels, handstands and dancing. I couldn't believe the smiles on everyone's faces, another attribute I notice of people who practice capoeira.
I've seen a few kids programs for aikido, I even help cover a class or two (a very good form of birth control if you ask Me.), but I never saw young children pick up the movements very well. The moves are so subtle in aikido that children seem to have a hard time grasping the concepts. Also, aikido is not very physically active martial art. I find the kids tend to get kind of bored.
Karate programs for kids are a lot more physically active and teach a strong sense of discipline. In most aikido kid program the instructors seem to be doing more crowd control. Children tend to pick up kicks and punches easier then throws. Striking arts tend to be very linear and the theory behind the art is very simplistic compared to aikido.
If I have kids in the distant future, I can see sending them to a capoeira school when they're younger. The only thing I will teach them as a child is how to roll, take a breakfall, and ukemi. As they get older, then I'll introduce them into aikido.