I have just started teaching karate to a class of 5-7 year old children at an after school club for a local primary school. The first class was last Friday and my instructor was present to ensure that everything got off to a smooth start. Having introduced me to the children he then sat at the side and watched, leaving me to run the class to my own plan.
This was fine, I knew he was there if I needed him and he did offer me occasional advice dealing with discipline issues. This week he won't be there, I'm on my own!
So, how did it go last week?
Well it went okay, exhausting, but okay! The thing that is most challenging is the fact that the whole class is new. I had 20 very young children all having there first karate lesson together with no other child role models to follow. In our usual club classes, if a new child joins, they have many other children to follow and copy, particularly when it comes to procedural or behavioural things. New children tend to fit in and settle down fairly easily and their behaviour is generally very good.
Twenty new children with no one to follow is a bit more chaotic! They don't know what 'line up!' means, they think bowing is funny, they don't know what 'start running round the room' means for the beginning of the warm up (they start running randomly in all directions, screaming and shouting as if in the playground). You have to explain what every single command means!
Having finally got them to line up in two rows (that took longer than you'd expect) we started with a seiza bow. They seemed to think this was quite fun to do though some of them thought that being on the floor was a good opportunity to 'play wrestle' with the kid next to them. However, while I'd got them down on the floor I decided to go through a couple of dojo rules - just bowing on entering and leaving the dojo and the importance of listening to me and not talking when I'm talking.
We then got on with the warm up - running round the room - I led this in the hope that they would follow and all run in the same direction, which they did - kids just love running around don't they? I then started shouting instructions such as ' when I say one, touch the ground with your left hand', 'two! touch the ground with your right hand', 'three! change direction' etc. Kids seem to really like the challenge of doing this. We then stopped and did a bit of light stretching - so far so good!
My two big themes for the lesson were, 'whole body movement' and 'evasion'. For the first theme I just got them to find a space (I thought getting back into ordered lines would take to long!) and we went through punching - in all sorts of strange directions! punching straight up in the air, out to the front, to the side, across the body and to the other side; then kicking in all directions too. It didn't matter what it looked liked I just wanted them to experience stretching their limbs right out, coordinating their movements and just having some fun with it. We followed this with a game to stop any boredom setting in.
I then went back to the body movement theme and we went through some basic blocks for a couple of minutes. I could see some of them were flagging a bit by now and getting restless. There was a little bit of messing around, particular among certain groups of boys and the odd child wandering off to climb on PE equipment stored at the back of the hall. I decided it was time for a short break!
You've never seen 20 children rush off to the loo so quickly in your whole life! I was then a bit torn about whether to go down to the toilet block with them or stay in the hall to supervise the children that returned quickly to the hall. My instructor said to stay in the hall. Fortunately they all came quickly back and I did a quick head count. Letting them have this scheduled toilet break seemed to work well because not a single child asked to go off to the toilet during any part of the lesson (unlike in our usual club lessons).
Next, I decided to move onto the theme of evasion. I explained that evasion meant 'getting out of the way' and we started with an evasion game called 'space invaders'. This got their heart rates going again and was a bit of fun. We then did some circle work - getting 20 young children to form a large circle is easier said than done! Eventually we formed the circle and I stood in the middle with a large foam padded stick. The kids are always intrigued by this stick and I've generally got their full attention whilst they wonder what I'm going to do with it!
Remember the theme was 'evasion' so I told them that I would either sweep the stick over there heads so they would have to duck to evade it or I would sweep it at ankle height and they would have to jump over it or I would poke it towards their tummy and they would have to move out of the way. This proved a very popular drill and we spent a good 10 minutes on this one.
I thought that they'd probably learnt enough new things for one day so we had a final game of 'dodge ball' using bean bags - always a riot this one and a good chance to run around and make a lot of noise!
I managed to get them to line up again for a final seiza bow. However there was still a few minutes left before parents picked them up so whilst I'd got them down on the floor we did some counting in Japanese. I'm always amazed how quickly kids pick this up!
A few discipline issues arose during the lesson:
* Some children talking when they should be listening
* Some children wandering off to play on other equipment
* A child refusing to do the activity
* A child hitting or 'strangling' another child
* Children sitting down when they should be standing
* Two brothers who refused to be separated from each other and messed around together
* A child throwing a lego car onto the floor after the toilet break, causing it to smash into pieces
How would you deal with these kind of incidents without letting it hinder the whole class?
Any tips for me for this week's class?
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