Why Preschoolers Should Study at GMTKD

Posted by on May 7, 2011 in Self Defense for Kids, Taekwondo Class Topics | Comments Off on Why Preschoolers Should Study at GMTKD

Why Preschoolers Should Study at GMTKD

This post may actually cover why pre-schoolers should study martial art in general.  But, since I don’t know exactly what any particular teacher would teach their preschoolers, I’m only sure it applies to myself and my martial arts school.

When I began teaching Taekwondo, I specialized in the youngest kids (5 & 6, at that time), maybe because the other instructors didn’t want to teach them. I remember what a big deal it was when I first let a 3-year-old join class (Caitlyn gave up diapers after I used that as an excuse to not let her go to class with her brother).  Now, I even teach 2-year-olds, if their parents will stay on the mat with them.  I think, in the old days, we all assumed that we were supposed to teach the preschoolers the same things we taught the older kids and adults, with the same goal of creating martial artists.  I now realize that, even if we are teaching them the same moves we are teaching kids and adults, we aren’t teaching them the same things.

With my old thinking, I was surprised by how many parents want to enroll their pre-schooler in martial arts.  I think most of these parents feel like “my kid is finally old enough to take a class, I’d better hurry and sign them up for something.”

I don’t really remember why this used to bother me, but now I embrace it. I think most of the parents want their kid to have the experience of learning a skill, rather than want their child to begin a life long study of martial arts.  I also think this “experience” is the  most important benefit a pre-schooler gains from taking a martial ats class.  For them to know that they know how to do something that most people in the world don’t know how to do has got to build their self esteem.  If we can start kids off with high self esteem, we can make a real difference in thier lives.  High self esteem may prevent them from being bullied.  It will certainly prevent them from being permanently emotionally damaged by any bullying they experience.

Although I’m not a child psychologist, it seems to me that age 2 to 6 might be when a child becomes self aware and starts forms opinions about who they are that can last a lifetime. Based on what I teach this age group, I expect the kids in my class to begin to think of themselves as a person who 

  • is physically active
  • stands up for themselves with words and body language
  • has the confidence to let others see them make mistakes
  • can learn to do many things with their bodies

Developing an awareness of how to control multiple parts of your body at the same time is another great benefit of martial arts for preschoolers.  As they try to learn where to put their arms while they kick and what to do with their legs while they practice punches and blocks, they are probably creating connections in their brain that will help them become “coordinated” kids, teens, and adults.  The importance of being coordinated in sports is obvious; but, let’s not underestimate the importance of coordination in safety and social life: it can prevent falls, car accidents, bad dancing and lots of other things.

To summarize what I’ve learned over the last 25 years of teaching martial arts to kids younger than most instructors would try to teach:

We may start some of them on a path of life long study of martial arts, we may teach some of them things that they someday use in self defense, but if we teach them right (by making classes fun and low-stress, but not watering down the techniques too much) we can affect all of their lives for the better.