Introducing the Early SKILLZ Program!
Three to four year olds love physical activity and anything involving play. They have a rich imagination and strong desire to be less dependent on their usual caregivers. The problem we discovered is that many children this age have a hard time with structure in a group environment like what is commonly found in most Martial Arts schools. The solution we found is to provide them with their own program that targets their stage of development in a manner that keeps them entertained while at the same time building skills that set them up for success. With that said, a structured program introducing early skill-based training in Martial Arts has proven to be very successful.
Here’s an overview of the stages of development for children ages 3 and 4:
- We expect them initially to drop their arms when punching and fall when kicking or jumping. We also expect them to have no concept of spatial awareness, therefore they will often drop things that are thrown to them and bump into people and obstacles.
- The goal of our program is to get them to punch without dropping their arms, kick without falling, jump without falling, and catch objects from various directions and distances.
- We expect them to initially lose focus when activities are over-complicated. We also expect them to struggle with commands that have more than two instructions.
- The goal of our program is to get them to follow verbal commands with no visual demonstration. Also, our goal is for them to remember rules and commands without being reminded.
- We expect them to run off the mat when they have anxiety. We also expect them to shutdown when something either scares them or doesn’t go their way.
- The goal of our program is to help them follow directions and persevere through an activity even if they are initially emotional.
- We expect them to mock each other, such as falling when their classmate falls. We also expect them to crash into things when they are excited.
- The goal of our program is to help them build good social skills such as understanding personal boundaries, not interrupting when others are talking, and taking turns properly.
The Early SKILLZ program is made up of 8 age-appropriate drills that meet the demand of the stages of development for 3 and 4 year olds:
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 more challenging curriculum as they advance to each rank. They graduate to the Basic SKILLZ program after they have successfully completed all 9 belt ranks of the Early SKILLZ 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:
- KICKING – Front kicking in the air, alternating legs. They must be able to execute ten kicks in a row alternating legs in order to pass.
- PUNCHING – Straight punching in the air, alternating arms. They must be able to execute ten punches in a row alternating arms in order to pass.
- BLOCKING – High blocking in the air, alternating arms. They must be able to execute ten high blocks in a row alternating arms in order to pass.
- CRAWLING – Bear crawling across the mat. They must be able to bear crawl up and down the floor without their knees or elbows touching the mat in order to pass.
- HOPPING – Hopping across the floor with both feet. They must be able to hop across the mat with both feet together, without falling, five times in a row in order to pass.
- ROLLING – Rolling a ball across the floor. They must be able to roll a ball across the floor while alternating hands, and keeping at least one hand on the ball at all times, in order to pass.
- RUNNING – Running across the floor. They must be able to run across the floor as fast as possible, without falling, in order to pass.
- CATCHING – Catching a ball thrown underhand from one step away. They must be able to catch a ball five times in a row in order to pass.
As you can see we take Martial Arts training to a whole new level! We use early elements of traditional Martial Arts curriculums to build skills that are appropriate for 3 and 4-year olds. This means that your child will learn and grow at a pace that is not too easy, nor too challenging. The best part is the Early SKILLZ program will equip your child with skills they will utilize in every area of their life!