By Rochelle Brenner
In the last blog I wrote about “adaptation energy” and got a lot of feedback from educators and friends who said that they could relate. Adaptation energy is your ability to process stress and it seems like the pandemic has sapped a lot of it. Research shows that children have more adaptation energy (similar to resiliency) than adults, but each difficult experience takes away some of their adaptation energy. The pandemic is a lot of difficult experiences and disruptive changes. The headline of this blog post is strategies we are using at the karate school to improve adaptation energy for students and instructors.
Structured unstructured time. Rather than spend all of karate class time teaching and drilling, we incorporate more “Black Belt practice time.” These are short segments of one or two minutes when students can practice independently without being told what to do. This isn’t a break or free play. It’s a chance to practice to get really confident in each move.
Mask breaks. The simple invitation for kids to go outside and breathe air for 30 seconds helps kids reset. These aren’t typically needed in regular classes, but for longer programs. We give the kids instruction to take deep breaths -- not when they are getting upset -- but during positive moments to keep their energy up before they get a chance to emotionally backslide.
Life lessons. Lessons of the week are personal development/motivational speaking directed at the issues children are facing. We share these lessons each week to calmly talk to the kids with an inspiring story to help them through the next struggle. The lessons are particularly designed to address the challenges they are facing today.
GRIT dog tag. Everyone got a grit dog tag to wear as a reminder that the daily challenges will develop grit and to think of it is as a positive instead of a negative.
More communication/ fewer announcements. We started sending weekly emails with the curriculum and announcements in addition to posting them on social media and our display slideshow at karate.
Longer interactive social events. Typically a board breaking workshop would be two hours. Last week, it was six hours to give parents a break and give the kids a chance to socialize in a fun setting.
More special drop-off events. The next one is a costume party on Oct. 31 including an obstacle course in character and martial arts lessons from our Black Panther. We try to make our events so much fun they forget they are wearing a mask and socially distancing. We try to schedule a drop-off opportunity for parents once a month.