By Jan Stockton, Founder Great Start Karate
When the pandemic hit, it completely changed the way kids learned in school. Kids began taking classes from their teachers over Zoom. Many kids took music and singing lessons online. I’m surprised then, that I still get the question, “Can my child really learn karate over Zoom?” Well, the answer is yes… and no. The truth is, not every karate school can pull it off. It takes several important factors to run a really good online martial arts program for kids.
#1 A Great Instructor
Not surprisingly, to run a great program for kids, you have to have an awesome instructor, someone who is energetic and inspirational. They have to be fun! Studies show kids learn best when they are having fun. Too often, karate instructors can get stuck in old-school, dogmatic ways of teaching. They may have used the same curriculum year after year without asking themselves, “What’s the purpose of teaching this? How will this benefit the kids?” I want kids to walk away from every class having learned something useful, whether it’s physical, or emotional, or both.
#2 Age Specific Classes
Most karate schools, including my own in WA state, cater to all ages, from 4-year-olds to adult students. This can work – if – you have specific teachers, teaching specific ages. I have found that it’s vital to pair the right teacher with the right age group. Teaching a 6-year-old is completely different than teaching a teenager or an adult. At Great Start Karate, our program is exclusively designed for kids ages 5 to 12. To keep the kids engaged, we keep the classes moving; changing up our drills, forms, games, and zoom backgrounds.
#3 Life Skill Based Curriculum
When creating Great Start Karate, I knew I wanted the program’s curriculum to focus on life skills so kids could have the tools they need to have the best possible experience in life. We created 12 skills, focusing on one each month all throughout class… Respect, Focus, Courtesy, Goals, Integrity, Discipline, Teamwork, Self Defense, Courage, Leadership, Perseverance, and Honor. Kids are like sponges. We want them to soak up all these life skills, in a fun and inspiring environment where they feel totally supported.
#4 Solid Zoom Platform
I admit, Zoom was new to most of us in the martial arts industry when Covid hit. As school owners, most of us had never been in a corporate Zoom meeting. Several karate schools tried to offer Zoom as an alternative when the pandemic shut down studios for months at a time. Understandably, not all schools succeeded. It was such a huge shift in how martial arts is taught in person. In-person school owners, like myself, had to quickly adapt to make it work. Near the end of 2021, I had 225 students who moved from in-person training to Zoom during the shutdown. It was during this time, I realized how many families liked the convenience of no travel, lower cost savings, and Covid safety. That’s when I came up with the idea of creating a special, online karate program exclusively designed for kids. I took my Zoom platform up a notch by creating a special video room with professional cameras, lighting, audio system, wireless mic, green screen, etc.
#5 Customer Service
I’ve been highly aware of the importance of great customer service since I started my first karate school over 33 years ago. All too often, we become accustomed to mediocre or poor service, leaving us feeling like we don’t really matter. I believed (and still do) that “everything matters.” I want to give the level of customer service that I want to receive. I’m also a mom, and nothing is more important to me than my kids – and yours.