Children are underdeveloped adults. This does not mean lessintelligent or less worth, but is important to remember in order tobe able to relate to their abilities and limitations. And kids indifferent age groups have different capabilities for coordinationand comprehension. This is important to consider and led me tolook for similar needs and wants of all humans despite age. Trainings are there by limited to the commonalities of individualsand address and strengthen the basic core of humanity. That beingsaid, it is always important to keep in mind the strengths andweaknesses of individuals. It is always the duty of an adult who isin charge of a child, or children, to aid their development in theway that the adult is capable.
Structure is very important to a child, primarily because itprovides a guideline for what is to be expected of them, and helpsminimize confusion, which adds to the enjoyment of training. Luckily aikido has a universally known structure among aikidoists;Entering the dojo, commencement with shomen rei, warming up,training techniques and principles, concluding with shomen rei. Inaddition to the main structural form the are many substructureslike bowing before and after training techniques, training rightand left sides, 4 techniques before switching tore and nage, etc. Not only do these structure give a sense of assurance but provideand opportunity of mastering a task, which gives confidence and asense of belonging. Remember that within the structure the ampleroom for spontaneity.
It is important to be clear to oneself and the children as to whatis expected of them. This requires consideration of childrensabilities so that the expectations are realistic. It is advisableto discuss and create an agreement that the children and the adultagree to. (Aiki-kids erklæring)
Play that support aikido principles.
It goes without saying that aikido techniques are not the onlyfocus of training. Keep it simple. Building a solid foundation isthe main goal. If you are successful the child who practicesaikido will become an adult who practices aikido, so she or he hasplenty of time to learn technique. The element of fun is importantto kids but not the goal of training. One can have fun trainingbut training is not only fun. Playing is a major part of achildrens life and that is why play in training is useful. Everyadult knows that a difficult job is made more enjoyable if it cancontain a bit of humour. Playing for kids evolves humour, rulesand often challenges. If you get the kids to laugh (without havingto do a stand-up comedy act) then you know that at least at somepart of the training they are enjoying themselves and will want tocome back. The best is if they laugh because they are enjoying whatthey are doing instead of what the adult says or does, but that isalso fun. Using props are a good way of playing. Instead of justrolling one can also roll over a rope and the height can increasewith still level. Balloons are fun. The creativity is up to theteacher.
This is, in my experience, the most important factor in having asuccessful training with kids. Kids naturally look to adult forleadership and inspiration and lets face it; everyone (adults too)would rather spend time with an enthusiastic person then theopposite. If the teacher is enthusiastic the student will morelikely than not, be enthusiastic too. A word of praise is warmingbut an enthusiastic word of praise lights a fire.
Parents are also a part of the equation of kids training. It isthe parents who will encourage the child to go to training. This isan important contribution to the character of the child. To followup what one has started, to support the club by attending and doones best are all underlying themes here. Children can often beheard saying that they done feel like going just because. Here wemeet an immature attitude, which needs attention by the parent. Onestill brushes ones teeth or takes a bath now and again regardlessif one wants to or not. This is a question of health. Not onlyhealth for the body but the mind and spirit. The parent also needto show interest in what the child does and learns at training. Achild who feels that the parent is interested in what they do helpsthe child feel that what he or she does is worthwhile and that alsocontribute to self-confidence. The parents are also a resource forthe club when it comes to social events the club might have outsidetraining. The may have contacts in the community like media,insurance, etc. And they like to photograph their children whichmight be used on a website or brochure.
It is important that each child is seen at each training and it istherefore advisable to have help. One instructor or helper per7-10 children works fine for us. We have up to 2 young men and 2older youths at most trainings, in addition to the head trainer.These are volunteer from the adult group of the club and they alsobenefit from contributing to the kids training. Besides the obviousfact that there are enough trainers to go around there are alsodifferent perspectives at work, which help create a broader insighttoward individuals and the group as a whole.
Skrevet av Robert Fischbeck
tlf. 62580495 eller 91371506
Fischbeck (Fudoshinkan Hamar Aikido)
Thank you very much for wise words Robert:)
Kim André Tinderholt, redaksjonen aikido.no