Saturday, March 11, 2017

Parenting Month 76: No longer one of the little kids

The major milestone of the kids is the 6 year old has had his last American Taekwondo Association (ATA) Tigers belt testing.  In the ATA, the Tigers is the group for 4-6 year olds where they allow for follow the leader in testing and advance at half speed (in each testing, they cover half of the form that the older groups do. Developmentally, this makes a lot of sense, somewhere around 7-8 kids begin to reliably tell left from right and there sense of time and sequencing develops.  However, at this school, they join the older kids (7-12) after the first half of blue belt (i.e. they will test for brown belt with the older kids).  At this testing cycle, he is the only one to advance due to belt promotion (there are two others doing the same, but because they turned 7)


ATA color belt testing
Blue belt testing.

One thing we have appreciated about his taekwondo classes and tournaments is that he has been one of the smallest ones, but has generally been one of the more focused kids, which results in him being noticeably more in line with the class than the others his age. And the way that manifests itself is that the teachers use him to flex pairings during sparring or self-defense testing, he will match his partner. While generally they try to match kids on size and temperament, they can pair him with smaller or shyer kids because he won't bully people over.  And with the bigger kids, he has enough skill that he will not get knocked over or hurt.

But now that he is with the older kids, as the youngest and one of the smallest in the room (there is one smaller). And we actually like it that way. We have always felt that we wanted him to be comparing himself to kids who were older, bigger, and smarter than him, so that there would always be someone ahead of him and he would always know what better looks like.  We have appreciated this in Taekwondo, where the teaching philosophy is that at whatever level a student was, the aim of the day's lesson was to always get better.
ATA color belt testing
High block


We think that T has shined in this setting, and anyplace like that where we have been able to create that. We get worried when he gets too many accolades this young, because we want him to be ready for the challenges in the future. And at this age, it is best if he is always learning and competing with people who have natural advantages over him, so when that changes, he will do well.
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