06 Sep Choosing a Martial Arts Program; it’s more than meets the eye
There are so many things to consider when selecting a dojo (martial arts school) for your child. After all, the school you select will help guide them through their formative years and instill positive mental development. The instructors should also be striving to instill such character traits as honesty, integrity, and perseverance in your child so that they can move through their pre-teen and adult years successfully. Here are some things to consider when selecting your child’s martial arts program…
*How comfortable are you when you speak to the owner/instructor?
When you arrive, you should feel welcome and respected and so should your child. Everyone involved in their martial arts experience should be willing to learn their name and speak to them with respect. You should never feel uneasy about being there. As a parent, how you feel is a good indicator as to which program will be a good fit for your child. A friendly atmosphere will help a child be able to focus on learning and work toward becoming a good martial arts student.
*How much experience does that particular school have, and how much experience do the instructors have in working with children?
Children are all unique, and so is their learning style. You want to find a program that has been able to consistently provide a quality learning environment for children year after year. Ask them how long they have been teaching in the area. Find out about their reputation and track record, and watch a few classes before making your final decision. If a school won’t allow you to view classes, that should be a red flag. Parents should always be welcome to see the classes in action.
*Who are the people involved in the program?
State requires public school teachers to be fingerprinted, and background checked for campus and student safety; however there are no such requirements for martial arts schools. Check into each individuals background by using online resources such as your county’s sheriff website to find out if there are any past incidences you are not comfortable with. An informed parent can always make better decisions for their child. Public records are free and can be accessed through your county’s sheriff’s website. (Many families do not realize this is something they can do when seeking a child-care sitter, tutor, or other guidance style coaches.)
*Does the program offer opportunities outside of the weekly classes?
A well rounded children’s program should offer more than just a few classes a week. Does the program offer additional opportunities such as Demonstration Team, Fun Friday, Summer Camps, and social interactions? Students who are able to participate and meet other kids with similar goals tend to stay dedicated to their training, as well as benefit the most and feel the most successful about their accomplishments than students who only are able to access a class or two each week.
*Is the school involved in competitive events?
Some schools are highly involved in competitive events others do not participate in karate tournaments at all. Find out about the program’s stance on competition, and ask what type of opportunities might be available through competition. Some schools have had students invited to compete at the International level affording them the chance to travel abroad and represent the USA. Some of these opportunities can lead to scholarships as well. Find out what types of opportunities will be available to your child through the program.
*Ask about Black Belt (even though it may seem a long way off)
Schools that guarantee students will receive a black belt in a year, or other types of radical guarantees often get kids caught up in the hype. Be careful about schools that make claims that seem unreasonable or doubtful. Ask specific questions about test requirements and how students can expect to level up through the ranks. Karate is a discipline (meaning that many of the benefits that will be gained are over the course of training and will be seen in the long term. Traditional karate should aim to instill a sense of good ethics. It’s not just about punching and kicking….personal development is the cornerstone of a good karate program). Ask the instructor specific questions about how they will address your child’s needs.
*Does the dojo stress the importance of good character and diligence outside of the dojo?
What does the dojo do to ensure that students continue their good character training outside of their karate classes? Do they acknowledge and reward good grades and consistent effort at school? Do they have a method for reminding kids how important it is to remain positive and helpful at home? Students who know that their Sensei (karate instructor) thinks these things are important tend to make schoolwork and good behavior at home a priority as well.
*Are the membership prices and policies straightforward and easy to understand?
Be sure you understand the details of becoming a student. Some schools advertise super low prices, but fail to mention that their pricing may increase with increased attendance. Ask about specilized ‘clubs’ that will come available to children who show skill and talent; often these clubs carry a price tag.
**(Some schools do not charge for additional clubs so be sure to ask. Consider if the school upsells these clubs as mandatory expenses for children to level up. Also keep in mind that these ‘vanity clubs’ such as demo team, Black Belt club, any other specialty clubs may be something that your child will potentially want to be part of, especially if all of their friends are. If you can, try to find a program that doesn’t charge for additional clubs, this way your child has the option to excel without any additional fees. Factor these details into your price comparison from the beginning so you will know what to expect as time goes by.)
While price shopping may be a good way to find the cheapest program, if you are looking for a high quality karate program price shouldn’t be the only factor in deciding which program you choose. Oftentimes a few dollars difference from school to school can equal large differences in quality of curriculum and instruction. Look for schools who charge a ‘membership’ rate rather than a weekly rate. This way you won’t experience a price increase during the months that have five weeks in them; and your child will be free to use the membership as often as you’d like without incurring additional cost.
Use these guidelines to help you gather information about the dojos in your area to be sure you find the program that is right for your family. Karate is a wonderful platform to introduce and reinforce positive values in your child’s growth and development. The right program will help foster self confidence and respect for self and others; which will continue to benefit your child throughout their life.