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If you're planning to enroll your child in a martial arts program, choosing the right school and instructor is an important first step. Kathy Sacoulas, program director at Progressive Martial Arts in Queens, offers tips on when to start, how to find the right martial arts studio, and a list of questions you should ask your child's potential martial arts instructors.
There are a lot of martial arts schools out there, teaching a variety of martial arts. Besides any Internet research you might do, it's important that you partake in any trial or introductory lessons that a school has to offer. It's important to visit the potential school and make sure you and your child like the style of instruction, the school itself (in terms of cleanliness and safety), and the people. Going to the school is super important in knowing if it is the right place for your family.
This is a very important question. I always think there are some key things to look for and ask about, including:
1. Is the school clean and is it a safe learning environment?
2. Are the instructors certified to teach kids, and how long has the school been in business?
3. Does the school have age-specific programs?
4. Does it have a character development program within the martial arts classes?
5. Talk to the families that are there. How long have they been there? Are they happy with the school?
6. Can the school provide the benefits you are looking for (fitness, social outlet, confidence building, self defense)? Ask for specific examples of students who have achieved these benefits.
7. Is the staff friendly and inviting? Do you feel like you could spend two sessions a week there (or more) and feel comfortable?
You can start martial arts at any age! What's important when looking into martial arts schools is that they have age-specific programs, which means they have separate classes for different age groups. Some schools group all their kids together, which doesn't create an optimal learning environment and is rather chaotic. Kids need to be taught according to their developmental, social, and emotional stages. When inquiring about a school, be sure to ask if the classes are broken down by age.
Martial arts is a very special activity in that anyone can partake in it and achieve high levels of success. Unlike team sports, martial arts is an activity where you can develop at your own pace, and you don't have to be the star of the team to achieve success. Here are some of the benefits for children who practice martial arts:
Learn more about the benefits of martial arts for kids
Kathy Sacoulas is the program director at Progressive Martial Arts, located at 175-25 Horace Harding Expressway in Fresh Meadows, Queens. She is also a registered nurse and holds a Masters in public health from Columbia University.
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