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Old 05-24-2013, 07:19 AM   #7
Susan Dalton
Dojo: Greensboro Kodokan
Location: Greensboro
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 346
Re: Starting a kids class- seeking advice & wisdom

Hi Mary,
I taught the kids' class for several years, so I'll tell you some of what worked for me and some of what our current instructor has done to expand the program. We're also discussing right now adding a "tweens" class for older children before they go into adult classes.

First, I think you're smart to teach the class with another adult. I taught by myself, but my son was 13 or so and he assisted. That way, I didn't feel overwhelmed. I was a brown belt when I took over the children's class (which I started in so it was very familiar to me) but I had never taught any aikido class before. I was very, very glad to have another experienced person help me. The person teaching now has 4 other adults who are usually there.

Kids loved games--rolling to pick up tantos thrown around the mat, aikido tag, aikido soccer, ukemi obstacle courses, etc. We had the traditional class set up and then we finished the last 10 - 15 minutes or so with games and/or jyuwaza, kind of their reward for their serious practice for the rest of the class. When I visited my shihan's children's classes in Japan, he had the kids run for 5 - 10 minutes before class and 5 - 10 minutes after class. That way, they got some of their ya ya's out.

Our current teacher teaches September - through mid-June and takes a break in the summer. That schedule seems to work very well. The group is close--they go out for pizza or some other celebration after class fairly regularly. Parents are always welcome to watch, even join their children on the mat. We now have several regular students who began with their children in the kids class (as I did.) They can pay adult rates ($45/month) and come to both children's and adults' classes or they can pay kids class dues ($25/month) and just come to the children's class.

Just like in all our classes, the two main rules are be safe and have fun. Good luck!
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