Toddler & Preschool Children
My newest adventure is teaching kids as young as 18 months. I utilize and pull together all my experience as a mother who had to work with occupational therapist for my own daughter, as a parent participant in different toddler/preschool classes with my children (dance, gymnastics, Gymboree, Music Together and anything else I could take them to), and as a TaeKwon Do instructor starting back in 1991 to create a fun, controlled, and learning class. There are two different levels of goals for kids 18 months – 3 years and those 3 years old and older.
For the younger toddler group, the areas I look at and work to strengthen are listening skills, controlling one’s body, balancing the left and right side, learning to jump, balance on one foot, alternate between right and left side, front and back legs, foot and hand drills, hand and eye coordination, learning to be comfortable with forward, backward and sideways motion and more. This sounds like a lot and it is, but the kids aren’t even really aware of what they are learning and/or ultimately doing. To them we are just singing Wheels on The Bus while playing with scarfs that we learn movement with (big arm circles, arm stretches, trunk sways, knee bends, and catch). Or just climbing up a big stack of shields and jumping off – they have no idea they are working on problem solving, upper and lower body strength, balance as they stand on top of a shaky stack and body control as they jump down aiming to land on a colored dot. Of course since this is a TaeKwon Do Class they are also “learning” how to do front, downward and sidekicks, punches, blocks and memorizing physical patterns. Their favorite thing is of course the parachute, which we really are learning cooperation helpfulness and has they learn that in order to have their turn at riding in the parachute they also have to participate in giving their classmates rides by taking a handle and walking around in a circle so everyone can have fun.
Since I start kids as young as 3 in my regular Family Style classes, their class is very similar to a normal TaeKwon Do class complete with warm ups that include jumping jacks (to learn we do Star – Soldier), push-ups (preschool version), leg lifts, superman, stretches, and they learn to count in Korean. This group works more on learning the different kicks and moving across the floor with the techniques to encourage balance and body control. We also will “mix up” the kicks and hand techniques more like problem solving – if the target is held this way, what technique do you do. They also get to do the obstacle course focusing still on balance, body control, following directions, waiting their turn and of course having fun.
Some of the things I have learned doing these classes is how much they are capable of learning, how quickly a child becomes left or right dominant, how different children process different tasks (some are natural jumpers, some have a hard time figuring out how to get their feet off the ground), how getting their bodies moving seems to also help their verbal skills (some non-talkers from the beginning are telling great stories now) and how quick they are to adapt and learn new things. I am currently teaching these classes at VT Sun, which is open to the public and in April will be offering classes in Vergennes as well. I am open to the possibility of working directly with daycare centers to add something like this in their weekly activities as I do believe it would be a great benefit to all.
School Age Programs
TaeKwon Do KICKS has taught programs at many schools around Addison and Rutland counties including: Shoreham Elementary, Weybridge Elementary, Bridport Elementary, Leicester Elementary, Neshobe Elementary, Vergennes Elementary and Middle Schools, Middlebury Middle and High Schools, Bristol Elementary, Cornwall Elementary, and Parent Child Center in Middlebury. These programs were either taught as special PE classes during the school day or as after school programs.
With the growing concern that children are no longer getting enough exercising, this is a unique way of getting kids to move their bodies. Not all kids are comfortable or interested in team sports and this gives them another option. Plus you don't have to be a great athlete to succeed in TaeKwon Do. There are so many areas that any child can find something that they can excel at such as speed, balance, flexibility, knowledge, voice, or strength and we celebrate and recognize all areas.
KICKS also teaches the students the 5 Tenets of TaeKwon Do which are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit. In order to help the students understand the meanings of these tenets the students learn to recite:
A TaeKwon Do students always uses his/her manners.
A TaeKwon Do student always tells the truth.
A TaeKwon Do student keeps on trying.
A TaeKwon Do student controls his/her body and mouth.
And a TaeKwon Do student never gives up.
The students are told that it is important to demonstrate these characteristics in and outside of TaeKwon Do classes.
The students learn to support one another and show respect through bowing to each other and referring to each other as Ms. or Mr. "First Name". I am always referred to as Master Thomas and/or Ma'am.
If you would like more information about how you can incorporate TaeKwon Do into your school, please contact us.