Here are some tips for parents looking to enroll their kids in
Taekwondo. This advice is based on my experiences with my two
young boys. If you have any additional thoughts/advice for
parents, please send me an email so I can post them below.
Examine several schools -
Check out several schools, rather than just going to the closest
school. The teaching style of schools can vary significantly -
from very regimented to overly loose. Our Master is great
because he is an extremely effective teacher and makes it fun
for the children with games & humor.
Visit different classes - After you have found a good school,
visit different classes (versus just the basic introductory class).
Visit the black belt classes, sparring classes and even belt
tests. See if the school's attitude changes as the children
advance. You don't want to find a school that changes in a
negative way (i.e. becomes too harsh) as your child progresses
to higher belts.
Ask questions - Talk to other parents & children at the school
to find out their likes and dislikes about the school and
Focus on safety - Is there enough stretching? What happens if a
child is hurt? What level of supervision is given during
Always get an introductory trial - See if your child
enjoys Taekwondo before committing to any any long-term
contract. Ask if the school has a short introductory trial offer
that covers a few weeks and use that time to see if your child
enjoys Taekwondo and is mature
enough to handle the instruction.
Also be wary of a
"cheaper" multi-year contract. Try the "more
expensive" monthly programs until you feel certain that your
child likes Taekwondo. Many kids do not last
multiple years in Taekwondo as they
have other commitments (i.e. baseball) or lose interest.
What is the "real" cost? - Make sure to find out the real cost
of the class. Beyond the monthly/annual fee,
what additional costs will you pay? Be aware that you are likely to pay
for items such as uniforms, sparring gear and belt tests.
Start your child early (if possible) - The best age is when they
are 5 or 6 years old. Older children can sometimes feel awkward
when they are a beginner and have to face much younger kids who
are at higher belt levels (in this case, look for teen or older
children classes). In addition, very young children (i.e.
toddlers) can be less focused & lack
sufficient coordination. My boys started when they were 6 and 4.
My older boy was the right age to handle the classes. In
contrast, my younger
boy loved Taekwondo but he needed more help
from me to master lengthy techniques (i.e. forms) and complex
kicks (i.e. spinning hook kick). However, as he gets older, he is
improving dramatically. Just remember each child varies
significantly and you know your child best. You don't want them to
Practice with them - The best option is to take classes
with them (my boys & I practice together). However, this option
is difficult for many working parents. Nevertheless, you need to
help them train. In the evenings, help them prepare for their
belt tests. Have them show you the forms, kicks and other things
that they have learned. Buy a book to help with the forms or
visit our form page
for detailed instructions.
Make your child stretch - Since kids are so flexible, you might
think they don't need to stretch. However, they can get hurt
without adequate stretching. Visit our
stretching page for ideas & to
show them how to work on weak areas.
Try to go several times per week - Going once a week is
not enough time to master the appropriate techniques. Your
children won't enjoy the classes if they are not at least
"average students". Who wants to be the worst in the class?
Those kids that go at least several times per week are usually the best in the
Encourage them - "Wow, that was a great kick! Can you
show me some more?" Remember, your kids are looking for your approval & love.
Stay & watch - Too
often, I see parents using the Taekwondo class as a quasi-baby
sitting service. They drop off the kid and then they run off to
Starbucks. The child will do a great move in class and look for
Mommy or Daddy. They want to see if their parents saw their awesome new kick. However, the
parents is not there & the kid is really disappointed.
Hopefully, you will be one of the parents cheering for your
child & giving them
a big thumbs up. The huge smile from your child is worth a few
missed cappuccinos. :)
Confidence & coordination -
Your child will learn confidence and coordination that will help
them excel at other sports.
Self-defense - Remember that Taekwondo is a martial arts
so your child will also be learning self-defense. The aim is not
to hurt anyone. However, all children should know some
self-defense moves in
order to deflect school yard bullies or the
growing problem of wackos on the street (you know what I mean).
However, reinforce that they are not superheros and that the
first move should be to yell for a teacher, policeman, Mom, etc.
The instructors at our Taekwondo school teach basic self-defense moves such as what to do if
someone grabs you.