My dojo is becoming very extremely top heavy, a lot. This brings up three questions for me.
1. How to get new students in the door. Age old problem, I know. Economy, I know. What works for your school?
2. How to effectively transition adult students from playing with the shiny new aikido toy to practicing aikido for the long haul. Especially when it becomes very obvious to the newbs that they are sorely outranked by everybody else in the school. We have one underbelt student below second kyu. If a new person walks in, they are the only person on the mat not in a hakama. That's gotta be intimidating.
3. How to transition kids from the very full and successful kids class into the adult class, in which they are no longer the big kid on the mat, and after which we do not play samurai tag. I personally find training with the kids who have moved into the adult class frustrating. How can I make their transition smoother and more productive?
Can I get some success stories and some perspective?
Take off the hakama and have everybody wear white belts - that should help a bit. Or even have everyone train in sweats and relax a little (keikogi are, after all, only the Japanese version of a sweatsuit).
A beginner's only class can help out a lot too (but then you have to work out how to transition them into the regular class).
Kids are the bread and butter of a lot of dojo - but personally, I don't think that Aikido's that great an art for them. It's either too difficult or too fluid in what most people are doing - although I have seen some Yoshinkan classes that go pretty well. If you do have the class, then I'd say ditch the samurai tag. I've seen plenty of good Aikido programs (and Karate and Judo too) that do very well with kids without underestimating them or creating training habits that won't be able to transition to the adult class.