by Coach Gina, Jay’s United Karate
My daughter started practicing karate three years ago. As a parent of an elementary aged child, I felt pressured to put her into an extracurricular activity despite my original declaration that we would only put her into an activity if she expressed interest in wanting to do so. I did not want my daughter to grow up with the stress of too many extracurricular commitments that I and my childhood friends had experienced when we were children. Basically, I wanted my kid to just be a kid.
With all the flyers and advertisements that were sent home from school, coming through the mail, and even popping up online, there was definitely an unwritten message that if my daughter didn’t join one of those extracurricular activities, then I was doing something wrong. This message was further compounded as we learned that my daughter’s 6-year-old friends were all already enrolled in extracurricular activities. She was the only one of her friends not enrolled in some sort of academic, community or sport extracurricular activity.
As a family, we sat down and considered what our daughter liked and also what she would commit to. Commitment was very important to us as we strive to teach our daughter that she can’t quit or give up when she gets bored or it gets too tough. We also wanted an activity that would grow with her to help with this commitment.
Quite frankly, commitment was the primary reason that karate was put on the list of possible extracurricular activities. It was not activity that kids get too old for and she could continue training beyond college. Additionally, the belt promotion and ranking system would allow her to practice with kids of the same skill level so that she would still be challenged while practicing but not feel like what she was learning was too hard for her to achieve.
We also wanted an activity that would help our daughter develop her self-confidence and become bully proof. At her daycare, she would come home crying because another child liked to pick on her. Her at home behavior was starting to reflect insecurities that children should never have in addition to her not wanting to go to daycare or begging to be put into the classes with younger kids so she wouldn’t have to play with the “mean kids.”
This was check mark number two towards our decision to choose karate for our daughter. Karate gives our daughter a chance to showcase what’s she learned individually and as a team, compete with other students, and make new friends in a positive, encouraging and safe environment. While we practicing fighting on the mat, the karate instructors also emphasize that fighting outside of the studio is a last resort and help our kids have a number of alternative solutions for when they feel they or their friends are being bullied. Bonus! All these new skills that she would learn could be reiterated with what we were already teaching her at home and she’d be able to use all that she learned throughout her life.
Finally, we wanted a physically active activity that would help to set her on the path of an active lifestyle. At the time, my husband and I had both fallen into the work-home-work rut and we were feeling the health impacts of what had become a sedentary lifestyle. Like many parents, we wanted something different for our daughter that would have longstanding effects throughout her life and that she could do throughout her life.
Those are the top reasons why we chose karate for our daughter. If you are considering karate as an extracurricular activity for your child, your top reasons may be different. At Jay’s United Karate, we often have parents ask us if karate will help their child improve their focus and concentration or if it will help their child gain leadership, respect, or self-control skills. The answer is yes! Whether you enroll your child in the evening karate program, summer camp, or after school programs, these martial arts values are in all of our programs and every activity we do!
We may all have different reasons for considering karate for our children but our end goal is the same. We all want the best for our kids so that they will learn life long skills that will help them to become independent, successful, adults. One thing that is guaranteed in life is that our children won’t stay children. The values that karate teaches our children will stay with them long after they grow up and become adults!