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Old 06-02-2013, 08:52 PM   #22
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
Location: Houston
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 608
Re: Starting a kids class- seeking advice & wisdom

Jørgen Jakob Friis wrote: View Post
We started a kids class about a year ago. I've learned a lot, and discovered even more things I don't know how to deal with. It's hard work. I would love to say it is also rewarding, and sometimes it is.. but sometimes it is just hard work.

We have kids between 9 and 13 of age. Some are good kids and some are troublemakers. Not by choice but due to varying circumstances. Either lack of contact to adult role models, social or chemical imbalances that would probably lead to a diagnose if a doctor was involved.

Fact is they create a lot of disturbance and sometime even make it hard to run a good class for the rest. The easy thing would be to ban them from class, but I really really believe that they need it more than the rest and that we should do our best to handle them in a good way.

My point is that I spend a lot of time preparing for the introduction of a childrens class. I made curriculum, decided how long to train for each grading and how to connect grades with adult grading system etc etc. However I did not realize that it is even more difficult to plan for children than for grown ups. Reasoning with them is just different and to a certain extend not possible.

I don't want to discourage you. It is great to have such a class. Both for the children, for the dojo and for your own personal growth, but get ready to have a lot of thoughts about how to motivate, teach and in other ways deal with children - not to mention their parents. Sometimes the kids are just there because their parents tell them they have to. Not the best parameter for motivation
include slightly advanced ukemi practice for some - forward ukemi ower a jo, break falls ower a
I think JJ has some good advice here, I started teaching kids at the YMCA in 2004 and have done so continuously since. We now have oour own dojo space in a shopping center. We started here again from nothing and now, 5 years later, we have over 50 active children in our program. We offer 4 childrens classes a week and have an average attenbdance of 25 to 30 in each class. The curriculum is at this link.
We run the class like a normal class - warmup (5 minutes), some limited tai sabaki (5 minutes), ukemi practice (5 minutes), then tachi waza - techniques (30 minutes), Modified freestyle practice (15 minutes). No games (except on Fridays), just mostly learning to have fun while training. We start at age 6 and go to age 13. All train together in groups. Each level has it's own group and they stay on that level until they complete all classes for the level, test and go to the next level. Higher rank kids teach lower levels (15 minutes) and then practice their next level (15 minutes). Lower ranked kids do their level twice in the 30 minute period of tachi waza. Adult volunteers help but no one is conscripted. Two Intructors are the regulars and adult volunteers show up when ever they are able to (at will). The class is always disciplined and reasonably quiet except for the freestyle but everyone has to stay under control.

The children love the discipline and they keep coming. More and more are reaching the highest levels and graduating into our adult program. It is possible to do it long term but it is a lot of work, there are many unique problems and no one should go into teaching kids blindly. Investigate first because if you go into it with the wrong philosophy, it will be difficult. Others have been successsful with teaching Aikido through symbolic and application exercises and games but we have way too many kids for that so we actually run an aikido class. The techniques are modified for the kids and many adjustments have to be made.

Best wishes,

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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