So, I’ve been doing a series on how to teach judo to children. I have covered topics including why you would want to teach kids’ classes, things I’ve learned teaching kids, games we play in class, how to help the kids develop concentration, and the best age to start kids.Today I thought I’d get into class structure a little bit. Specifically, should you divide children into classes by age or by size or have mixed classes? There are plusses and minuses to each idea, based on the abilities children in each age group. Here’s what I did…
I divided kids into very broad size classes with generally larger, older kids on one day and generally younger, smaller kids on another. Within those classes we have a range of sizes and ages, but we usually try not to have the 3-4 year olds working out with the 11-12 year olds. I consider this to be a great arrangement for the following reasons:
- While we are not strictly observing the AAU 10% weight categories guideline, we don’t have weight differences as large as they could be. So how do we do randori and club tournaments without weight classes when we have a greater variation in weights than 10%? Check out the kohaku shiai method. Works like a charm!
- Kids get to work out in a heterogeneous group, which is good for them because they learn more. Larger kids have to learn to be more controlled, and smaller kids have to learn to handle aggression from larger kids. Interacting in large homogeneous peer groups with low teacher-to-student ratios is much of what is wrong with schools today.
- Parents with 2-3 kids of different ages can often drop them all off for the same class instead of making 2-3 trips to take individual kids to different classes.
I suspect that your mileage will vary based on what kind of parental support you have and what kind of scheduling arrangements you make with your childrens' parents. How do you guys handle this issue in your classes? Leave me a comment and let me know.