Lack of Attention
In the last article of this series I talked about how games are an excellent way to keep kids attention while still providing them with useful skills. This trend of not being able to pay attention is something that you will encounter over and over when trying to teach children. In this final article of the series, I would like to highlight a basic strategy I use to effectively teach karate to children.
Focusing on Concepts Instead of Techniques
If you have ever tried teaching a child the intricate details of punching someone, you know there is only so much that they can soak up. When teaching an adult, I might emphasize a straight wrist, a twisting motion, hikite, targets on an opponent, different types of punches for various situations, and how to make a stronger punch. With children – they will be overwhelmed quickly, so I need to emphasize the important parts rather than the intricate details.
Below are some various examples of how to keep classes broad, simple, and children friendly.
Technical vs Strategy
Avoid trying to teach children specific grappling techniques and rather have them practice very basic strategies of grappling like controlling an opponent, building a good base to keep from getting flipped over, and most important to their safety, that there is no punching when grappling. It is quick to see the difference. Give kids a good base knowledge of the strategy and then, later, when they have that in their minds, work on giving them specific techniques to apply.
Complicated vs Simple
Pressure points are a great way to frustrate children as they have trouble memorizing a big list of locations on the body. Supposing they do figure it out, it is much harder to actually find these pressure points on another person. Instead why not give them a much simpler concept like raising your guard as you approach an opponent. When you are close it is harder to kick and more beneficial to block your face. This is easy to understand and even easier for them to practice and learn. Keep it simple and they will learn more.
Long vs Short
The history of Karate is a great topic. The problem is that it takes a long time to explain and talk about. If you are talking more than 5-6 minutes, kids are normally completely distracted by the time you finish. Why not give them a very short story with an important takeaway. You can teach a ton of philosophy, morals, and strategy in short stories, but have the added benefit of the higher level of focus from the children when telling a short story compared to a long one.
Specific Scenarios vs General Concept
When teaching children things like blocking, it is better to have them focus on broad ideas like blocking their face, rather than giving them specific scenarios like “when someone throws a hook punch at your face, it is more effective to block with an outside block than a high block.” This goes along with the first points, but it is more effective to get them into the habit of “high punches vs low punches” rather than trying to identify the punch and then use the “best” block. This is going to get them overwhelmed and ineffective. Later when they are good at the general idea of blocking, then move them into specific techniques.
They are kids. Using the KISS method is going to be the best way to do anything with them. Keep It Simple Stupid! There are some who will be able to learn faster – great – move them on, but start slow and build them up rather than trying to teach them like a normal adult class. Do you have any tips on how to teach kids?