Recently I have had a few conversations with parents about what we are teaching students in class, so I thought it might be a good opportunity to expand the discussion to include everyone.
Watching class from the outside, it sometimes looks like lots of fun for the children, but we are actually developing all sorts of skills which each drill we run, every warm up, and even every game. (please don’t tell the kids that they are supposed to be learning while they are having fun!)
So let me share with you an example:
In Early Skillz when we are working on Kicking, children are being reminded about more technical aspects of kicking, such as having good chambers, keeping their hands up. At the same time, kicking also helps them with balance, proprioception, and spatial awareness, as well as building strength in both the core muscles and hip flexors.
And that is just the physical aspect; training at Gentle East also focuses on Physical, Emotional, Social and Intellectual capabilities of each student.
In the Life Skill portion of class we sometimes work on Focus. Focus helps students with, well, Focus! However, focus, to us, is far more than just standing still and paying attention, and even looks like just the opposite at times as we challenge the kids to maintain it in an exciting environments.
Emotionally: 5 and 6 year old kids are easily excitable, and they will lose focus easily. Our Goal is to help them focus even when it is hard to do so. We are constantly redirecting them and reminding them how Focused students act.
Intellectually: typical 5 and 6 year old kids have a hard time retaining beyond three commands. I say typical, because I am sure that if you are a parent of an intermediate or advanced student, they are likely above their stage of development and can remember three if not more.
Very often, what we see as a lack of focus is actually our adult misunderstanding of a child’s normal development as they may struggle with a series of commands we have given. For example, when you ask a 5 year old to get up, turn off the tv, put on his shoes, and get his jacket…. he will get up, turn off the tv, put on his jacket, and play with his toys.
When we understand that our kids aren’t showing lack of focus, we are simply expecting things beyond their stage of development, it helps us shift the way we interact with them, making it less stressful for all involved.
Learning Focus takes time! This is especially true when you consider that we are not teaching obedience to command, but the ability to self-regulate and make good choices in a crazy world. Your child wasn’t formed in a day; give them time to get acclimated to new things.
Whenever you are not sure of what we could “possibly” be teaching on any particular day, ask us and we will be happy to explain.
I will continue to post tidbits about the skills we are working so you can better understand what our goals are, and so you can start to see and celebrate the successes your kids are achieving.
For further reading on what we do and why, check out our article “Teaching Martial Arts in 4D”