Personal experience speaking, running a kids class is multiple times harder then running an adult class. I find myself usually chasing down kids age 6 to 10 in my academy’s Kids BJJ program. Kids can be tough but if taught the right way, its a great experience and can be lots of fun. The 5 tips I have for those who are about to or currently are teaching kids are:
- Don’t Run Kids Class Like an Adult Class
Kids are notorious for having short attention spans, especially the younger ones. So, this means they won’t be drilling a technique for long. Once you look away, they will be off doing their own thing or in their own world. Be prepared for this and understand that more isn’t always better. Sometimes its ok for them to do the moves only a few times, the key is to always come back at the next class and refresh. Eventually it will stick, I guarantee it.
- Make it Engaging
Though kids may have that short attention spans, there are ways for them to focus and become engaged. Usually my partner and I teach through games or basic movements that allow them to move around. I also find that using references that they under (such as video games or super heroes) keeps them attentive (Example: Knee Shield becomes “Captain America’s Shield”. Silly but you be surprised how often this works). Speaking their language comes a long way and also helps build a connection with them.
- Basics, Basics, Basics
I know I mentioned before of keeping it simple. The best way to keep it simple is to teach the basics. Once again, I reiterate, don’t make the mistake of teaching them like they are adults. We usually only teach one technique, at most two. By focusing on the basic techniques and movements, it will help them also in the long run when they do get to the more advance techniques. By then they will (or should) already have the basics in place to help them. Trust me, at such a young age, they aren’t going to be berimboloing anytime soon.
- Give Them a Job
One of the best ways for kids to learn and also get tuned in is to make them feel like they are part of the team and contributing. What I mean by this is sometimes we ask the kids who are more advanced to pair up and help the newer members. This gives the older kids a purpose and it gives the newer kids someone to work with that knows what they are doing. We also have the kids come out one by one in pairs to show the technique or even to roll in front of the class. Nothing like keeping them on their toes.
- Have Fun and Enjoy the Journey
There’s something about watching the kids you are teaching slowly grow up and learn the moves that they are being taught. Its very rewarding and it always amazes me to see how fast and creative kids can get. Don’t make this into a job. Too me when I see that with other teachers, I can tell it changes how they teach and act with the kids. That’s why I am listing the 5th tip as “Have Fun and Enjoy the Journey”, if you aren’t, then your kids won’t be either. Remember in the end, its all about them.