The golden years for kids are between the ages of 8 and 11 years old. At this age, kids can grasp new information quickly. They start seeing the world in a new and exciting way and, because of this, they are beginning to develop their morals and values. And while they are making leaps and bounds in maturity, they still need a lot of guidance from adults in their lives.
Kids between the ages of 8 and 11 years old are full of energy and their personalities are more distinct. They have an increased desire to be independent and they want to be recognized for their intelligence. kids at this age love interacting with others and enjoy making friends which leads to the sense of belonging they crave. And although they are exhibiting more independence, they still have a strong desire to be connected to the important adults in their lives and need approval from them.
The growth at this age is exciting to witness but can come with its own set of challenges for parents and teachers. This increased independence and sophisticated thinking leads to a more opinionated child. kids at this age may begin complaining about the fairness of rules and will argue their point of view. They also get distracted and almost seem to “space out” because they are intrigued by all the exciting things going on around them. Friendships blossom during this time but this often comes with the development of peer pressure because they begin valuing their friends’ opinions of them.
During the time between the ages of 8 and 11 years old, it is important for parents and teachers to guide their students/kids. Understanding where they are in this stage of development is vital to helping them be the most successful they can be. They’ll want to be independent but, they’ll also want to be close to their parents. It is a very delicate balance. The key is to let them make choices and help with things but, when they need guidance, do so in a way that does not crush their growing autonomy.
THE MARTIAL APPLICATION
Our Junior Karate Program at Glens Falls Karate Academy, was specifically designed for kids at this age. The goal of this program is to adapt to their adventurous attitudes while building skills that set them up for success. Some of the goals of this program are to help them stay focused, persevere through tasks they find more difficult, show intensity on easy tasks, and show courage when trying something new. Our highly trained instructors are also vital to the success of this program. Connecting with each student and utilizing edutainment are two of the most important laws of instruction when working with this age group.
Eight to eleven year olds are what most people consider “the golden age.” They are proficient in their vocabulary and problem-solving skills, yet they are not at the age where they want complete independence from adults yet. This makes the teacher-student relationship stronger than ever. The problem we discovered is that they still lack core skills, and although they are highly intelligent, they struggle to keep up with older students, ages 13 and up. The solution we found is to provide them with their own program that targets their stage of development in a manner that adapts to their adventurous attitude and youthful nature, while at the same time building skills that set them up for success.
Here’s an overview of the stages of development for children ages 8 to 11:
- They typically have weak fine motor skills therefore proficient technique is not quite there yet. Also, they still tend to stumble when their body is in motion therefore advanced movement is still a little sloppy.
- We expect them to initially struggle with great technique in their blocks, strikes, kicks, and stances. We also expect them to initially look sloppy when jumping, spinning, switching feet, etc.
- The goal for our program is to get them to perform technical blocks, strikes, kicks, and stances while applying power. Also, our goal is to get them to apply speed to motion without looking sloppy.
- They are extremely bright, but they typically have a hard time concentrating during distractions.
- We expect them to initially lose focus if there are other, more “interesting” things going on around them. We also expect them to forget simple commands mainly because they try to “over-think.”
- The goal for our program is to get them to concentrate on the task at hand despite other distractions. Our goal is to also get them to retain simple information without trying to put excessive thought into it.
- They are wonderfully stable and love challenges. However, they will typically show excessive fear when they over-process something.
- We expect them to have emotional stability for the most part on normal days. We also expect them to initially show excessive fear when put on the spot.
- The goal for our program is to help them persevere through challenges, especially when they initially feel like giving up. We will also help them face their fears.
- They love to interact with others, especially adults. However, they typically don’t like when something is unfair and will be determined to point it out and be heard.
- We expect them to initially interrupt us when they think something is wrong. We also expect them to show great determination when trying to get their point across.
- The goals for our program are to help them know how to address problems and challenges properly without interfering on the overall flow of the class.
By understanding the stages of development of 8 to 12-year olds, we were able to select 8 age-appropriate skills that make up the Jr Karate Program:
We cover one of the above skills per class (in order). During each class we run a warm-up; deliver a mat chat about the skill; run two or three skill-building drills; and then we have them demonstrate the skill to earn their skill-stripe. They must earn all 8 skill-stripes in order to graduate to the next belt level. Once they earn their next belt they will continue to run through all 8 skills earning their skill-stripes with a more challenging curriculum as they advance to each rank. They graduate to the Teens Karate program after they have successfully earned the first 8 belt ranks of the Jr Karate program.
Here is an example of what a white belt must demonstrate for each of the 8 skills above in order to earn their next belt:
- AGILITY – Switch feet and kick a target with the front leg 10 times alternating kicks. Demonstrating a proficiency of footwork, understanding of offensive angle changes and body mechanics in motion.
- INTENSITY – Demonstrate escapes from common arm and shoulder grabs, demonstrating the control over and appearance of intense focus.
- CONCENTRATION – Performing combinations 1 – 4 of the stage 1 kata, Taikyoku Drill #1, by instructors count. Demonstrating the ability to stay on task with a partner and showing attention to detail at slow speed.
- SPEED – Demonstrate common boxing combination, demonstrating an understanding and use of technical, explosive, and reactive speed.
- FLEXIBILITY – Holding a middle split at their current range of flexibility. Demonstrating their new knowledge of muscle health and taking care of your body through proper stretching technique.
- COURAGE – Demonstrate courage to hit, and get hit through pad holding. Demonstrate comfort in maintaining range with a partner and confidence/teamwork in pad holding technique.
- PERSEVERANCE – Holding each static leg, arm, abdominal, and core exercise. Demonstrating their ability to press through fatigue and concentrate through difficult tasks.
- TECHNIQUE – Demonstrate knowledge of contact points and beginner understanding of the kinetic chain through performance of basic stepping/striking drills.
As you can see we take Martial Arts training to a whole new level! We use core elements of our traditional Okinawan Karate curriculum to build skills that are appropriate for 8 to 11 year olds. This means that our students learn and grow at a pace that is not too easy, nor too challenging. The best part is our Junior Karate program equips our students with skills that they will utilize in every area of their life!
The child-adult bond is of great importance at this stage of childhood. However, for this bond to help kids develop in the best way possible, it is vital that the adults in their lives know what to expect. The balance between wanting independence and needing approval can be difficult but with the right guidance from adults, kids can develop their autonomy from the encouragement of the adults in their lives.