I’m not just talking about lesson time in the Dojo, I mean all up. If you combine the formal lessons along with hours spent practicing their martial arts skills at home… How many hours a week do you think your students are practicing?
Every class has some excited students that practice all the time, they love learning something new and then perfecting it and then showing it to you in the next lesson. I wish all students were like that, but they’re not. The average student only practices for 10-20 minutes between lessons and if they don’t practice a new technique within a couple of hours of getting home they often forget how to do it correctly… And then there is the group that only does your lessons in class and nothing more. These are easy to spot because you have to teach them the same things over and over again.
You need to have a plan and set out the requirements for them so they know exactly what to do when you’re not there.
Imagine if the math teacher at their school simply said “Go home and practice some math tonight”. I’m sure you can see how vague that is. The kids aren’t clear on what they should do and the parents can’t help because they don’t know where to start.
This is why teachers use books and set clearly defined homework for the kids to complete before their next lesson.
The kids know exactly what’s expected from them and if they get stuck their parents can help because they can look at the book and help their child through the exercises.
It was this insight that led to me writing the “Martial Arts For Kids” series of books.
These books contain a collection of Martial Arts Games and Strength Games which can be set as At-Home Challenges for the kids to complete before their next lesson.
I wanted these books to be universal for all young students so the games and challenges included in both books are not specific to any particular style of martial art. The games and challenges focus on building core strength, and explosive strength, balance, co-ordination, reflex speed and mental focus.
As an adult we can see how and why these games improve these skills but for the kids all they see is a new challenge to beat, a new game to play with friends. This is the real key to getting them training at home. Don’t tell them “Go home and do 50 push ups every night” you’ll hear moans and groans from most of the class. Say…
“I have a challenge for you before the next lesson, I’m wondering if you’re strong enough to do 10x Wide/Narrow push ups, 10x High/Low push ups, 10x Robot push ups, 10x Superman push ups and 10x Sway push ups every day until I see you again. Can you beat this challenge?”
You’ll be rewarded with the sounds of excited kids ready to take up your challenge and prove to you that they ARE Strong Enough.
Once the challenge is set it’s up to the kids and the parents to meet the challenge. If they have their own copy of the books then the parents can help their child by making sure they are doing everything properly.
If they forget how to do a certain game or challenge they can refer to the books which are filled with photos to remind them how it’s done correctly.
Parents can use these books to continually keep their kids active and burning off excess energy. If the kids ever say “I’m bored” then parents can grab the books and set out a challenge for them.
The physical improvements from these At-Home Challenges will show up in class. The kids stop falling over, their strikes hit harder and they don’t run out of steam after the first 5 minutes.
I’ve heard parents say that they’d like to help their kids do more at home but they worry they might tell them to do something the wrong way and muck up their training so they don’t get involved.
Many of the games and challenges in these books focus on developing the child’s physical skills so there is nothing that a parent can “get wrong” if they follow the pictures.
There are also striking and blocking games in the books which Instructors can customize/tweak to suit their martial art style. Play these games at the end of the formal lesson and then set it as the At-Home Challenge while it is fresh in their minds and they should remember how to play when they get home.
These Books Are Great For Instructors, Kids and Parents.
For Instructors, you now have a tool for setting At-Home Challenges to keep your students growing stronger and fitter and more prepared for your next lesson.
And for Parents, they now have a fully illustrated book to help their children develop the physical attributes that will accelerate their Martial Art training.
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