There's a difference between a student choosing to practice their own form at home in a safe space (which is okay) versus parents forcing their child to practice at home, the student trying to spar, do bully defense techniques, teach friends of family members, punch & kick people and the furniture (which is NOT okay). Students should never spar outside the school or perform martial arts techniques that could hurt themselves or others (or your furniture).
And again, there is a difference between a student deciding on their own to practice their form (which is okay) and parents making the decision the student should practice, or worse, trying to teach their kids based on what they've seen from the sidewalk or video taped on their phone (which is NOT okay ... the video taping or the attempt to teach). We do suggest to students, once they learn their form, that a great way to improve is to ask a parent to video them doing their form, and then to let the student watch the video by themselves. (We know it's tempting to watch it with them and point out what they need to improve/fix, but that becomes discouraging for them because it sounds like negative criticism. Let it be their thing.)
There is a great Facebook post going around that says: "Your child's success or lack of success in sports does not indicate what kind of parent you are. But having an athlete who is coachable, respectful, a great teammate, mentally tough, resilient and tries their best IS a direct reflection of your parenting."
Research indicates that the #1 reason kids quit activities is because their parents take the fun out of it. Parents try to "help" by giving constant advice, tips, sideline coaching, turning it into homework, etc.
Parents, we know how tempting it can be to watch class, take notes or use your phone to video their form and then try to "help" your child at home, especially if you feel they're not learning as quickly as other students. But that is one of the fastest ways to kill your child's desire to learn martial arts. Something they started as a fun activity has now become a chore. And we know from the sidewalk it can look like teaching should be easy. But parents who start taking class with us are surprised at how difficult it actually is to learn (let alone to do well) what look like the most basic taekwondo moves.
Yes, it looks easy when we do it because we've been doing taekwondo for so many years and we've been trained to teach it and we've been teaching for so many years. We understand that little Bobby and little Susie have different learning styles. And we've decided that we need to focus on the direction little Marcia is moving her feet and not worry about what her arms are doing right now. When you try to "help" at home, you may undo all the work we've put into moving them toward learning their form ... and building their self-confidence. As long as students are attending 2-3 classes a week consistently there is no need for additional practice at home. You may want them to look awesome right now, but we see the long term potential in your child if we can keep it fun for them and keep them wanting to come back to class. If you really want to help your child succeed in our program:
- bring them to class 2-3 times a week, consistently
- make sure they have the proper uniform for class and are on time
- make sure they are rested and have had a healthy snack and water before coming to class
- have transition time between one activity (playing with friends, watching TV, playing video games) and coming to class
- after each class tell them how proud you are of how hard they work in class
If every class ends with you telling them how they could have done better, they will equate coming to class with getting "yelled at" by you, even if you think you are just offering helpful advice; and if we've disciplined them in class ask them what happened and how they can keep it from happening again (and yes, support us), but if you punish them after they've been disciplined in class they won't want to come back.
At the higher ranks, especially Black Belt level, students are encouraged to practice their form (and old forms to work toward earning their instructor collar) at home in addition to participating in class 3 times a week. Again, this needs to be the student's decision, though. We do not want students to injure themselves or a friend in an attempt to demonstrate kicks, punches or bully defense techniques they have learned in class. Breaking boards is never to be done outside of the school until the student is a senior blue belt belt and both the student and parent/guardians have been taught proper technique by a chief instructor.
And, just in case you think it would be a great idea to have our instructors babysit or hang out with your child so they can help them with their form outside of the school, that's one of the fastest ways for our instructors to lose their teaching collar. Our instructors are certified to teach under the supervision of a Chief Instructor in our school, but not independently outside of our school.