by Erin MacKenzie and Penny Van Bergen, The Conversation
If your child is home more than usual, their normal sense of routine has been disrupted and you may be wondering how to ensure they don't go stir crazy.
Here are four ways to keep your kids happy if they're home for long periods.
1. Create a routine early
Children and teenagers thrive on routine. Some children may also experience anxiety about what is happening, and a new routine can help provide them with a sense of normalcy.
Plan a rough daily routine with times for different activities: school work, exercise, chores, creativity or free play, and time on digital devices.
Research also suggests children be involved in negotiating their routines as this helps support their empowerment. Older teenagers, who may be used to managing their affairs, may only require minor prompts to help with their routine.
By creating a rough routine, you allow children to know what to expect. For example, you can show children the times you will be fully available to them and the times you will be working or busy.
Where schoolwork is offered online, and you find yourself in the role of teaching support, a routine also allows children to know when your teacher hat is on and when it comes off again.
2. Help them get exercise
Many sporting activities have been cancelled for this season. Yet exercise is critical for young people's physical and mental health.
Think creatively about the activities children and teenagers can do when confined to the home. Opportunities for exercise might include a mini bootcamp in the backyard, an obstacle course through the house, physically active video games (dance, fitness, boxing), or kid-friendly dance and excercise classes online.
Primary-aged children are likely to love having their parents involved in such activities, and research shows parent support for exercise and role modelling improves teenagers' exercise participation.
3. Help them stay social
Social distancing measures reduce children's capacity to socialise with friends. What this means may differ depending on the age of your child.
Deep emotional connections with friends are extremely important for teenagers and many will turn to social media to discuss their feelings. Yet research has shown that teenagers who go online for emotional support may experience more worry. This may be because the quality of support they find there may be poor, and they may also experience uncertainty about some of the messages they encounter.
You can encourage teenagers to continue using social media to bond with friends and peers, but to take regular breaks and share their bigger worries with parents. If they hear any alarming information about COVID-19 from their friends, it's important to remind them to verify the information by checking with reputable sources.
4. Think beyond Netflix
Harnessing your child or teenager's interests is key to engaging them in new activities, especially when Netflix or video games are the alternative.
Talk to your child about a new skill they would like to learn or a place they would like to visit, and investigate real and virtual possibilities for accessing these. There are endless opportunities to learn new skills together through online platforms
At first glance, Quiet Time – a stress reduction meditation strategy used in several San Francisco middle and high schools, – looks like something out of the om-chanting 1960s. Twice daily, a gong sounds in the classroom and rowdy adolescents, who normally can’t sit still for 10 seconds, shut their eyes and try to clear their minds.
The practice of meditation in schools deserves serious attention from parents and policymakers. An impressive array of studies shows that integrating meditation into a school’s daily routine can markedly improve the lives of students. If San Francisco schools Superintendent Richard Carranza has his way, Quiet Time could well spread citywide.
CLEANSING TROUBLED MINDS
What’s happening at Visitacion Valley Middle School, which in 2007 became the first public school nationwide to adopt the program, shows why the superintendent is so enthusiastic. In this neighborhood, gunfire is as common as birdsong – nine shootings have been recorded in the past month – and most students know someone who’s been shot or did the shooting. Murders are so frequent that the school employs a full-time grief counselor.
In years past, these students were largely out of control, frequently fighting in the corridors, scrawling graffiti on the walls and cursing their teachers. Absenteeism rates were among the city’s highest and so were suspensions. Worn-down teachers routinely called in sick.
Unsurprisingly, academics suffered. The school tried everything, from counseling and peer support to after-school tutoring and sports, but to disappointingly little effect.
Now these students are doing light-years better. In the first year of Quiet Time, the number of suspensions fell by 45 percent. Within four years, the suspension rate was among the lowest in the city. Daily attendance rates climbed to 98 percent, well above the citywide average. Grade point averages improved markedly.
About 20 percent of graduates are admitted to Lowell High School – before Quiet Time, getting any students into this elite high school was a rarity. Remarkably, in the annual California Healthy Kids Survey, these middle school youngsters recorded the highest happiness levels in San Francisco.
LESS STRESS, MORE PASSION
Reports are similarly positive in the three other schools that have adopted Quiet Time.At Burton High School, for instance, students in the program report significantly less stress and depression, and greater self-esteem, than nonparticipants. With stress levels down, achievement has markedly improved, particularly among students who have been doing worst academically. Grades rose dramatically, compared with those who weren’t in the program.
On the California Achievement Test, twice as many students in Quiet Time schools have become proficient in English, compared with students in similar schools where the program doesn’t exist.
The gap is even bigger in Math. Teachers also declared that they’re less emotionally exhausted and more resilient.
Quiet Time took years to develop. Its origins are in the 1990s when two Silicon Valley investors, Jeff Rice and Laurent Valosek, developed a program to teach meditation in public schools.
The idea came after the tragic Columbine high school massacre. They set up the privately funded non-profit Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education (CWAE).
The program, introduced to all ages, asks students to sit for 15 minutes of meditation twice a day. Classes take place at their desks after the qualified TM teacher rings a bell.
Students then repeat a personal mantra in their heads until they reach a deep feeling of relaxation.
Superintendent Carranza says:
“The research is showing big effects on students’ performance. Our new accountability standards, which we’re developing in tandem with the other big California districts, emphasize the importance of social-emotional factors in improving kids’ lives, not just academics.
That’s where Quiet Time can have a major impact, and I’d like to see it expand well beyond a handful of schools.”
While Quiet Time isn’t the final solution for a broken education system, it’s a game-changer for many students who otherwise might have become dropouts. That’s reason enough to make meditation a school staple, and not just in San Francisco.
Story by Adam R. Weiss
Martial arts training is a learning experience, to say the least. Each day you spend in the dojo, you are bombarded with new movements, new techniques and new strategies.
The best way to rise to the challenge of mastering all that material is to learn from the mistakes of those who came before you. In other words, if you can avoid the pitfalls that have trapped other martial artists, you will be that much further ahead for your next promotion test or sparring match.
Students do that because they always face their opponent with the same foot forward, and they think they will be able to make the same choice on the street. They do not know that always fighting from the same stance will make them predictable in the dojo, and it can ruin their ability to respond to unorthodox attacks on the street.
Solution: Train your weaker side first. In sparring, try to launch an attack using the arm or leg you normally don’t use. Merely switching your stance frequently in a match can help keep your focus and techniques sharp.
Many beginners try to punch or kick so hard that they lose control of their body and set themselves up for injury.
Solution: When you learn a new technique, try to focus on proper body placement from the beginning to the end of the movement. When you have mastered that, you can add power.
Lower-ranked students sometimes observe the speed with which higher belts perform and try to duplicate it before they are ready. That can lead to improper technique and increase the risk of injury.
Solution: Ask advanced students to show you a new move slowly, then try to duplicate their movement in slow motion. As the technique becomes second nature, your speed will improve.
This is a big problem, especially for older students just getting into the martial arts. When their motion exceeds what their body can handle, it can result in pulled muscles or torn tendons and ligaments.
Solution: Stretch at home or in the office before you go to class. That will give you an edge because your body will be partially warmed up before you begin stretching in class.
Many beginners do this so frequently that they become lightheaded or dizzy. They also subconsciously reduce their energy levels and disrupt their concentration.
Solution: Relax. Breathe while you move and exhale at the climax of your punch, kick or block. Try to breathe from your stomach, not from your chest.
Many martial artists are guilty of making this mistake. The result is poor execution of blocks, punches and kicks.
Solution: Remember that fundamental techniques are the building blocks of advanced techniques. Spend more time practicing the basics.
The martial arts are one of the most strenuous aerobic and anaerobic workouts on earth, yet many students don’t drink any fluids because they think sweating is good and replacing lost water is unnecessary.
Solution: Drink water before class, during and after class. It will keep your muscles — which are 70-percent water — functioning at maximum capacity and shorten your recovery time.
Most martial artists fall prey to this. They throw one too many punches into the focus pad, blast one too many kicks into the heavy bag or execute one too many breakfalls on the mat — and find themselves sidelined with an injury.
Solution: Make your workouts 90-percent physical and 100-percent mental, saving some energy for your next training session. Focus on control and precision.
All martial artists tend to practice the techniques they are good at more than the techniques they need to improve.
Solution: Perform all your techniques using both sides of your body. In friendly sparring matches, surprise yourself and your opponent by executing a difficult move you have never used before.
Some martial artists are so busy they can’t find time to work out more than once a week. They train one day, and over the next six days their memories fade and their technique falls apart.
Solution: Try to get to the dojo as much as possible. On your days off, do your martial arts homework. If you think of your training like attending high school, you will improve more quickly.
It’s hard to deny that those who learn martial arts develop many skills and strong character traits needed to take the practice seriously. From improved confidence to self-discipline and respect, the things martial arts teaches are so much more than just physical.
One character trait that is often ignored but is an important part of practicing martial arts is courage. Here we explore how martial arts builds courage in its students and helps both youth and adults overcome their fears and develop new, braver senses of self.
What is Courage?
Courage is a difficult behavior to master. Let’s take a step back and examine what courage means. Courage, or bravery, refers to the act of doing something even though it is frightening or “out of your comfort zone.”
Deeds accomplished through courage are not just “showing off,” but are those that fuel personal growth or have a noble purpose. Trying to jump off a roof into a pool is not brave (although it may be frightening), merely reckless. However, leaping from a boat to rescue a drowning toddler would be considered brave. Performing competitive diving in front of an audience for the first time despite your stage fright would also be brave.
Perhaps your fear is standing up to a bully, starting at a new school where you don’t know anyone, or moving across the country for a better job. Whatever the problems you face, the need for courage is apparent in everyday life. For some, bravery goes hand-in-hand with confidence. The ability to do courageous things may be greatly hindered when one lacks in self-confidence. Martial arts is a great way to not only improve your courage but your self-confidence.
Why is Courage Important?
Humans naturally have something called the “flight or fight” instinct. When faced with danger, our brains and bodies responding by either wanting to take on the situation or flee.
Fright is one of the two basic human reactions to sudden stress.
Imagine you’re walking down the street. Suddenly, someone pops out from behind a building and shouts, “Boo!” Most people will jerk back and take a few quick steps away (preparing to run, if necessary) or raise their hands to a defensive posture (preparing to fight). Some people may take “fight” a step further and punch the person who surprised them.
Historically, the ‘flight or fight’ response helped us react to potential predators. Of course, we’re no longer dodging sabretooth tigers these days, but the instinct is still there. And it doesn’t just apply to physical threats. We still feel this instinct in any sudden and stressful situation, such as an embarrassing incident at work, or being asked a surprise question in class.
To overcome fear and the natural reaction of stepping down in the face of danger, we need to overcome tap into our ‘fight’ response and build skills and confidence in our abilities to defend ourselves.
How Does Martial Arts Build Courage?
In martial arts, gaining courage and confidence starts from the very beginning. The first class, for many, is often exhilarating and exciting while simultaneously being terrifying. You’re walking into a room full of strangers to learn how to do something you may have zero skill in or knowledge about.
Courage Develops Over Time
While the first time you come to a martial arts class may have been the biggest leap in building your courage, over time, martial arts will continue to help you strengthen your courage, confidence and ability to handle fearful situations.
Every class builds confidence and courage. Martial arts offers plenty of safe, healthy ways for children to practice courage
In every class, you are faced with the idea of taking on an opponent, of learning new skills and techniques, some of which you may fail at initially. However, the idea is that even if you fail at first, you try again, you change your methods, you improve, and you eventually succeed. Martial arts teaches you that perseverance and having the courage to try, even when it’s hard, is not only possible but incredibly rewarding!
Over time, we see that martial arts builds courage in students of all ages and from all backgrounds. This courage can be applied to much more than practicing a sport, it can be used to take on the obstacles of everyday life and give you the confidence you need to confront challenging situations. With martial arts, you learn not to fear the idea of taking chances but to relish in it – and this confidence and courage is something that can change the course of a lifetime.
By Century Martial Arts
Guest Blogger: William Tresten
When it comes to martial arts for self-defense, not all training was created equally. It’s important to find an art that you enjoy training in, that suits you, and that is actually usable for its intended purpose (self-defense). Here is my advice for anyone, looking to start self-defense training:
1) Ensure the quality of what you’re learning.
When looking at training in any martial art for personal protection, the first thing you must do is vet your instructor. There are too many whack job instructors teaching things that A) are too complicated, or B) do not work under high-adrenaline and high-stress situations.
Make sure the techniques you learn are pressure-tested. You will not need to seek out fights in dark alleys to test these techniques, obviously – but you should be able to use them in sparring, in rolling (live grappling), or against a training partner who’s providing active resistance.
Be wary of instructors who do not incorporate any of these training exercise into their classes. If they’re teaching miraculous “works-every-time” self-defense methods, but you only ever train these moves at slow speed with compliant training partners, you need to take a good, hard look and ask yourself, “Is this person trying to help me, or just help themselves to my money?”
2) Know your personal strengths and limitations.
Women and men are built differently. This is not to be sexist – neither gender is better than the other. However, knowing your traits will help you select the best art for your personal protection. Women have several traits they can utilize for a tactical advantage. For example, studies have shown that women may resist fatique better than men. Women also tend to carry the majority of their strength in their lower bodies/legs.
If the fight does go to the ground, women can use their legs to strike back in vital areas giving them time to escape. Also, controlling distance and overloading with only two or three strikes in vital areas works well against a larger attacker.
3) Put thought into strategy.
So maybe you don’t have a lot of upper body strength – no sweat! You don’t need to bulk until you’re Conan the Barbarian in order to be able to defend yourself.
Choosing the right art for personal protection boils down to strategy – let’s be honest, going punch for punch with someone who wants to do you harm more than likely WILL NOT work and could get you killed. Most confrontations can be avoided with good situational awareness; however if an unavoidable situation happens, you need to know how to defend yourself.
The key to a good self-defense art is that it allows you to cause enough pain, in the right areas, immediately. Areas like the throat, nose, eyes, and groin are all good places to start. Targeting any one of these areas and landing a good strike may cripple the attacker long enough to allow you escape.
4) Don’t limit yourself to one style.
Remember, it doesn’t matter how good an art is for self-defense if it’s not good for you. The most effective style for your personal protection will be one that you can learn and retain well, and execute techniques from. So experiment with different styles.
I recommend building a foundation that incorporates elements of striking, grappling, and weapons training. Some arts may offer training in all three of these areas (like krav maga or jeet kune do); others may only offer one or two and you will have to supplement.
Continue to build on those foundations. I may be an instructor, but I still consider myself a student in the arts. Let me tell you, the best way to learn is to train with people that are better than you. You might fail 100 times in the gym, but it’s much better to work out the kinks there than out in the real world. You learn way more from you mistakes, anyway.
There are numerous benefits of martial arts for kids, including improved physical health and a boost in self-confidence. Martial arts can also teach children self-defense skills that can help them ward off bullies and protect themselves from violent attacks. More importantly than fighting off others, however, martial arts teaches kids how to become masters of themselves: how to control thoughts, emotions, actions and responses.
These self-discipline skills are crucial for youth facing the turmoil of adolescence, school, family and other challenging environments. Here’s are seven ways that martial arts can help kids develop them.
1. Setting Goals
Many martial arts for kids incorporate a belt ranking system that typically starts with a white belt denoting the lowest skill level and black the highest. This means of ranking encourages students to work at attaining the next level, which teaches them how to set and achieve a goal. By developing the habit of setting goals, students are learning to work for and succeed at other goals in their lives. These goals may include earning a high school diploma or attending college.
2. Improving Focus
Children learn how to focus their energy to complete tasks, such as splitting a board or punching a target. They have to concentrate on completing these seemingly simple actions using the proper martial arts form. Practicing this type of concentration can also help them focus on completing homework, reading assignments, and more.
3. Learning Discipline
Instructors of youth martial arts typically do not allow chatting or inattention in class and are quick to call out bad behavior. By instilling discipline in the martial arts arena, students learn to pay attention to the instructor and refrain from misbehaving. These good behaviors typically transfer to the school setting, where students often begin earning better grades as a result.
4. Stepping Up Efforts
Students are constantly encouraged to put a little more effort into learning and practicing the arts by punching harder, kicking higher and challenging themselves. This atmosphere of encouragement to always strive for more sets the stage for students to expect more from themselves and pushes them to a greater understanding of their potential.
5. Teaching Respect
Respect is a crucial concept in martial arts for kids, where students learn to respect their teachers, opponents and other classmates, as well as themselves. Instructors take the time to teach students in nearly every class session about the importance of showing respect to their parents, teachers and others.
6. Boosting Self-Confidence
In time, students begin to see improvements in their physical strength and understand that they are learning skills and methods for responding to dangerous or stressful situations. This realization boosts their self-confidence and impacts how they relate to and interact with others in their lives.
7. Aiding Memorization
Martial arts incorporate a series of forms, or movements, which must be completed in a specific order. Whether the moves are for self-defense or fighting, students need to memorize the order in which to perform them. Practicing this type of memorization can also pay off for children studying for classroom tests and quizzes. Children who have attention or learning difficulties in particular can benefit.
-by Nathan Bernardo
Parents have for some time now put their children in martial arts classes as a fun and positive after-school activity that teaches them valuable lessons and works off their energy. More than just a respite for working parents, martial arts can be a vital part of a child's life, teaching values and instilling upstanding character traits that carry over into everyday life.
Here we explore the many reasons martial arts is good for children—and why you might want to consider enrolling your child in martial arts classes.
Children in a martial arts class have to learn the material and learn how to do it correctly; there is a certain amount of emphasis on refinement of material learned in all martial arts schools. To do all this, the child must concentrate and be very aware of what he or she is doing. Martial arts naturally makes the student concentrate to learn and perform.
Obviously, this is good for everyday life because focus is required for pretty much all activities. As a person reaches adulthood and they must work at a job, drive a car, or study in college, the ability to focus proves to be an invaluable skill. Martial arts can be the foundation for this ability to sharpen one's focus.
The better the student is able to concentrate and learn, and the more aware they are, the more confident they feel and the more they feel good about themselves. They are excelling and working on themselves—and for themselves and have learned how to work hard to achieve their goals. They are staying physically fit, using their minds, and associating with respectful and caring people and friends. They are working hard for themselves, which means they see their own worth, and they are doing it with helpful friends in a supportive environment, which further boosts their confidence.
It takes time, focus, and a lot of work to reach your goals, in martial arts or any other endeavor. Martial arts classes are a miniature version of the world, in which you concentrate your efforts to achieve your goals. The student learns to work hard, concentrate, and patiently learn their lessons until they eventually excel after they've put in the work that it takes to get really good at martial arts. The lesson is that patience and hard work pay off and are good for you—and, in many ways, good for everyone around you.
As stated, kids taking martial arts classes learn self-discipline and focus, learn to be patient, and learn the value of work. This carries over into other aspects of their lives, including how they perform in school.
They begin to see the value of really putting themselves into what they need to do and how it can result in something that is really good for them.
Essentially, martial arts teaches kids how to direct their energy in a positive way while making them more self-aware and teaching them how to work with others. They must cooperate with fellow students and their teachers, as they learn to work hard for themselves, too, by reaching their goals and excelling at an art.
These life skills carry over into their everyday lives as their grades improve, they socialize in constructive ways, and they have respect for others. Martial arts is an excellent avenue for improving the character of children and giving them skills that will last a lifetime.
- By Peg Rosen
There are lots of reasons martial arts might be a good match for kids who learn and think differently. Here are nine benefits.