Spicing up your Kids Classes
By Bob Hubbard

Kids are the life blood of many schools. Attracting and keeping them can be a crucial step towards the long term success of your school. Each child can be worth over $2,000 each annually (from tuition, event and merchandise) to your bottom line, and can be a return customer for over a decade if treated right.

Kids join for many reasons: self confidence, protection from bullies, they thought it was cool because they saw a movie or tv show, and for fun, among other reasons. In the end though, they want to have fun. Making your classes fun is a key component to keeping them coming back for more.
Now, obviously kids have different needs than adults. Shorter attention spans, endurance and strength levels, etc. While an adult might think nothing of 15 minutes of non stop punch drills, for a kid it can seem to be forever. So, spice things up a bit. This can be done at minimal extra cost to you.

Lets take a look at some basic drills and how to spice them up.

Punching and kicking drills.
These can become boring fast to a child. So, spice them up by adding targets to hit. Not just the standard kicking shield, but moving targets as well.
  • Take a stack of kicking shields. Place a hand shield on the top and see who can kick or punch it the farthest using the various strikes of your art.
  • Set up an obstacle course, with targets at various points. As the kids move from station to station, change up the required strike at that spot. At one it’s a back fist, at another a hook kick, etc.
  • Hang some rope from the ceiling and tie hand pads, pool noodles or kicking shields to them. Set the swinging and send the kids through. They can duck or strike as they see fit. This drill can build timing, object tracking and motion detection, as well as hand-eye coordination.
  • Stand alone punching bags (the type you can remove safely from their stands), or thick kicking shields make excellent targets as well. Set them up so that the child can jump over 1 and strike/kick the second.
Reaction Drills
Obstacle Dodge-Em
Get some Nerf or other foam balls. Have the parents help here. As the kids run from one end of your floor to the other, the parents will toss the balls at the kids. The kids should block or dodge the balls as they run.

Dodgeball.
Get a large foam ball and divide the kids up into teams. When the childs is hit, they should step to the side and do a form or technique or a couple of pushups or something else appropriate to your school. When they complete this, they can then rejoin the game. This will require you to pay attention as some kids react negatively to being “outted” but that can be overcome with positive attention. Also be alert to “gang up” situations where they seem to be focusing on 1 particular student. Dodgeball works on reactions, awareness, movement, and observation, as well as helps build teamwork.

Circle version 1
The class lines up in a circle. 1 child is in the center, holding a kicking shield. Each child is given a number. As you call out the numbers they are to attack the child in the center with that technique (targeting the shield). Care must be taken that they don’t start the attack until the target holder is ready. This can improve reaction time as well as peripheral vision.

Circle version 2
A variation is to pair or trio off the class. 1-2 are given kicking or hand shields and circle around the other who remains stationary. The center child will strike or kick at the targets held by the others who will take turns closing and circling the stationary child.

Circle version 3
This is the same as above, but you allow all 3 kids to move about within a specific area. For added variety, you can setup a kick bag, BOB or other obstacle within the space. The child can use it for cover while it serves as both protection and obstacle.
Large classes can be split off and timed for use with any of the Circle games.

Ending a class with 10 minutes of attribute building games like these can greatly improve the “funess” factor of your classes, as well as serving as a reward to your students for a good class. You might find that they will be more attentive as well as better behaved during class so as to be able to play the game at the end. Some might even enjoy it so much that they tell their friends who might then visit and check out your program, leading to new students for your school.

Treat your kids right, and they can make your school a profitable success.

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Bob Hubbard is an administrator of the popular martial arts sites MartialTalk.com and KenpoTalk.com. He is president of SilverStar WebDesigns inc., a web site design and hosting company specializing in affordable solutions for martial artists. A student of all the arts, he is currently studying Modern Arnis. More of Bob's articles can be found at rustaz.net. Please contact Bob if you would like him to review your martial arts product.

Copyright
©2006 Bob Hubbard - Reprinted On KenpoTalk With Permission