Friday, October 24, 2008

How many kids should you start with?

When you start your kids' judo class, should you start with just a couple of dedicated students or just throw the floodgates open and accept all comers?  Here's what I did - I started with six kids ages 4-8. This gave me 3 larger (6-8) kids, and three smaller (4yo) kids. This small cohort had positive aspects as well as negative.
  • We had great teacher-student interaction and it was easy for one instructor to maintain good control over six kids.
  • With great personal attention, the kids made fast progress on technique
  • We really had too few kids to really do good club tournaments.
This pilot program worked so well that at the beginning of this year we expanded it to about 25 kids, aged 4-11, split across 2 classes.  There were pros and cons to this larger class size.
  • The old heads from last year got more easily distracted and had a harder time showing the newbies how to act right in class.
  • With more older/larger kids we had a couple with attention/activity problems bordering on bullying.  We've had to work on this a bit.  I think we've just about got the kids indoctrinated on how to act humanely toward their peers.
  • More kids=more chaos=less teacher control (have to have a parent volunteer or two in each class)
  • Slower progress on technique
  • Better variation of partners – easier to do a really great club tournament
This week, after trying it this way for about 6 weeks, we divided these two classes into three to drop the size of each class down to about 8 kids, and we’re planning to combine all the classes into one competitor pool for club tournaments one Saturday each month, so we should get the benefits of small class size as well as a large competitor pool.

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