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Toddlers need to stretch too

young girls stretching

Why kids need a regular stretching routine

As adults, the idea of stretching before and after activity is common knowledge. What isn’t common is the idea of helping our kids stretch after play and activity. Toddlers and young children are moving constantly and exercising their muscles as they go.

Think for a minute how your muscles would feel if you played as hard as your 3 year old does all day and you didn’t stretch your muscles. Most of us would get tight and sore very quickly. Our toddlers and young children get tight and sore too. Not to mention that kids are still growing, which adds tension to their muscles and joints.

Taking a few minutes each day to stretch with your toddler is important for their overall health and it may help with some of those ‘growing pains’ as they get older. Growing pains typically occur because the muscles and bones grow at different rates. As the bones grow, they stretch their muscles even tighter; therefore, kids often feel pain in their legs and arms. A regular stretching routine can help ease the tension in muscles that will help with flexibility, muscle pain and even pain control related to growth and tightness.

Here are a few stretching exercises that you can do with your toddler and young children. When performing these and other stretches, remember to hold them for 30-45 seconds to give your child’s muscles time to stretch. Try to avoid bouncing during the stretches too. Bouncing doesn’t allow the muscles to get a good stretch.

Toe Touches

Either standing or sitting on the floor, have your child bend at their waist and touch their toes. It is important to keep their knees straight during this exercise for them to feel this stretch.This stretches the hamstrings located in the back of their legs, and will help as kids grow taller.

Butterfly Stretch

Have your children sit down on the floor and put the soles of their feet together. Show them how to pull their feet toward their body and push their knees toward the floor. If your kids are really flexible, see if they can touch their nose to their toes!

Childs Pose

This is a great stretch for your kids’ back muscles. Have your children kneel on the floor with their toes touching and their knees slightly spread apart. Have them lean forward and rest their head on the floor to feel a good stretch in their hips and back muscles.

Reach for the Stars Stretch

We can’t forget about the arms! In sitting or standing, have your child reach their arms over their head to stretch their shoulders, arms and chest toward the stars.

Stretching can be beneficial for all children, but remember to consult your physical therapist or pediatrician if you have questions before starting a stretching routine for your child.

Jodi Burgett PT, DPT, CPST, is the clinical coordinator of Neurodevelopmental Physical Therapy at Cook Children’s. Physical therapy at Cook Children’s focuses on large motor and functional skils to enhance development, restore function and prevent disability from pediatric conditions, illness or injury. Cook Children’s has Rehabilition Services in locations in Fort Worth, Hurst and most recently in Mansfield.

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What ages of kids should be together in a martial arts class?

When deciding what ages of kids should be together in a martial arts class consider this: for adults, a 25-year old can be taught in the same way as a 40-year old.  At those ages, even though 15 years apart, the method of teaching will be the same. However when you teach younger kids  differences in age  can drastically change how each learns. 

7 to 12 year olds

This seems like a big gap in age and it can be if you are teaching alone. To combine this age group in one class you really need an assistant instructor that can be in charge of one age group, like 7 to 9 year olds. Some 12 -year olds are so physically developed that there can easily be a 30 pound difference in weight from a 7 year old. Not the best for partnering up!  This age group is more about physicality than ability to comprehend instruction.  Of course 12 year olds may feel like they are too old for training with a 7 or 8 year old. Acknowledge the age disparity by giving the older kids longer combinations, or 10 more kicks than the rest of the class. This makes them know that YOU know they are not “little kids”.

4, 5 and 6 year olds

A handful of 4-year olds will be mature enough that they can handle a more advanced method of teaching. If you are not sure, start the kiddo off in your 3 and 4 year olds program, like Little Eagles® Martial Arts. It’s better to have a 4-year old be too mature and move them up than it is to have him or her possibly disrupt a class for 5 and 6 year olds.

The behavior of this age group is a little more predictable. They can be taught the foundations of your martial arts style and are more apt to recall and retain information.  Combining 4 to 6 year olds can also persuade a 6-year old to behave immaturely. This age group benefits greatly from feeling like a “big kid” and being separated from the pre-school ages. 

3 to 4 year olds

This toddler/preschool age group should be in their own class. If you enroll this age group into your regular kids program you will have many different learning capabilities, simply due to age. 3 to 4 year olds – and perhaps some 5-year olds – need a lot of switching up in their classes. While this age can learn quickly, the tasks have to be kept to simple commands and drills.  Think of this class as prep for the next program in your school or dojo. Showing toddlers how to stand at attention, respond to the instructor, take turns with fellow students and awards for a job well done is all that should be tackled in these classes. This age group is exactly why Little Eagles® Martial Arts was developed and made available to martial arts instructors.

Little Eagles® Martial Arts has 20-years of experience behind everything we offer to help your toddler class take off.  Quick video tutorials offer ideas and tips for filling your class time and keeping the students interested.  Your other classes and programs are taught with your knowledge of martial arts. To teach preschoolers martial arts means to include some very basic martial arts techniques into fun age appropriate drills and games.  Let us help you with Little Eagles® Martial Arts!




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How to start a pre-school martial arts program, Steps 6-10

karate boy jumps through tubes

How to start a pre-school martial arts program, steps 6 – 10 offers more tried-and-true tips to begin your new program . Of course we sprinkle in a few links to our merchandise and video tutorials, but the choice is yours to click. 

6) Offer a free class to your local pre-school

When you have become more comfortable with this age-group you can begin to “mobilize and advertise”.  There is absolutely no cost to you, and you will have a captive audience of your target market.  Keep in mind that you must have a class-size limit! A manageable number of 6 to 8 students produces the best outcome.

You may or may not be allowed to hand out brochures or information, especially if you are on their property. But you can always reward the kids with a sticker on their chest for trying hard. Our toddler-approved Little Eagles Martial Arts logo on round stickers are perfectly sized for pre-school size kids.

7) Colorful flyers attractive to toddlers

E-mail continues to be the best for advertising to your target audience. After all, parents are the ones responsible for signin-up their child in your toddler martial arts program. But if your target student doesn’t have an e-mail account (in this case 4 to 6 year olds) then you are missing some opportunities!  

Print advertising is still a fantastic way to attract immediate attention to what you have to offer. Brightly colored and professionally printed flyers can be placed strategically for your target student to take notice!  Displaying flyers at the height of the average adult’s waist places them at eye level with a pre-schooler.  It’s the same reason the candy at the super-market checkout is at a child’s eye level! 

8) Encourage pre-teen students to help out

If you can remember when you were a youngster you will remember that an older kid being given responsibility meant he or she became a role-model for younger kids. Bringing a pre-teen into your toddler classes to help-out will make the little ones take notice. They will have a role-model closer in age that they can look up to.  

9) Have a system of rewards and promotions

This young age group responds very well to tangible rewards and achievements.  Our stand-by of products includes stickers, temporary tattoos, balloons, patches and diplomas.  

When a new student attends his or her 5th class, they are rewarded with a uniform patch. For smaller achievements we recognize a job well done with stickers and temporary tattoos. Using balloons in the classes for practice and handing them to the best-improved student at the end of class is a huge boost to a little ego! 

Little Eagles “Taking Flight” diplomas are the most coveted by this age group. Proud parents post pics of their proud graduates on social media, and framed diplomas are hung proudly!

10) Teach good behavior not good technique

So many martial arts teachers and instructors don’t want to teach toddlers. Reasons range from “feeling like a babysitter” to “that age group cannot comprehend the purpose of techniques” and everything in between.

If an instructor feels like a babysitter than he or  she probably is! If you have the mentality that the only activity you can do with toddlers is to watch them run around, then you ARE a babysitter. The teacher has to take charge and know what they want to teach to these kids. Focus? Patience? Sharing? Taking turns? Kindness?  Know that your short-term goal is to help them with basic life skills. And the long-term goal is to cultivate students for years to come!

Technique and comprehension is definitely not a good idea for these tots! Helping each with balance and coordination is a better choice.  Improving motor skills with appropriate drills-skills is a great choice too.  The good news is that we can absolutely help in making your toddler martial arts program a success.

Little Eagles® Martial Arts offers has compiled countless quick  ( average 2 minutes )streaming and downloadable video clips of actual classes.  In less than 10 minutes you will essentially have your lesson plan DONE!  Easily accessible by your staff, too. Your style; our supprt! 

**Be among the first to request FREE stuff! Follow this link to submit your request.**


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How to start a pre-school martial arts program, Steps 1 – 5

young martial arts students kicking

You are ready to start a pre-school martial arts program in your school, studio or dojo. Great – now what? Let us help you get started. We offer our 20+ years experience starting with steps 1 – 5. Of course we sprinkle in a few links to our merchandise and video tutorials, but the choice is yours to click. 

1) Your student’s younger siblings are your first students

You don’t have to look far to get your first students signed up! In fact, that is exactly how our Little Eagles Martial Arts program got started. Three younger siblings of our elementary school-age students were our first ever “Little Eagles”!

You won’t have to spend anything on advertising to start your pre-school program. Another benefit is that the parents of these new students already know you and your school.  The relationship has already been formed. This makes parents more comfortable as well as the instructor, or teacher.  That familiarity means your skills can be tweaked and sharpened before you add more students to your new program.

2) Make sure you have the “right” instructor

toddler martial arts studentsOh yes. Definitely an essential for teaching toddler martial arts classes. One big reason for either a) a failing toddler program or b) not having a toddler program at all is having the wrong instructor!  The owner or master instructor may not be the best choice for teaching this age group. A responsible teenaged or adult student could be a better choice.  

If you are of the mindset that the owner or master instructor “must teach all classes”, let me tell you, we were too. When we started teaching our toddlers classes in 1999, we failed miserably.  When we tried again in 2000 we asked an adult black belt if she would like to begin teaching the toddler classes. Best Idea Ever. 

3) Limit toddler classes to 1/2-hour

Limiting your toddler classes to one-half hour is the best option. Remember – the instructor has to switch things up often. Five different activities within that 1/2-hour can sometimes be a challenge. At the end of thirty minutes, everyone has given their all!   You can always use the last 3 to 4 minutes of class to let the students give you a review! Ask them what they liked best about today’s class, what they learned in the class and what they look forward to doing again. ( Hint: don’t ask about negatives. An example would be asking what they didn’t like about the class. Keep it all positive – that’s the feeling they will go home with!)

4) Offer classes twice a week

Offering classes twice a week is ideal for this age group. We let parents know that once a week is fine; twice a week is better.  Pre-schoolers really won’t benefit from more than three classes a week.  Space the classes out with at least one day in between. (Tuesday’s and Thursday’s have worked for us!) 

5) Know what you’re going to teach beforehand

Many seasoned martial artists do not have a “lesson plan” for their classes. We teach according to what our student’s needs are at the time.  And when you’ve been teaching for a long while you also know that the best plans can go drastically off course! Flexibility is key.

However, teaching or instructing toddler or pre-school classes does require some planning. What specific drills and games will you cover that will keep them focused, alert and interested? Your focus is not on their proper foot placement or cadence. It should focus on taking turns, sharing, sportsmanship and respect for their fellow students and teacher!

Little Eagles® Martial Arts offers has compiled countless quick  ( average 2 minutes )streaming and downloadable video clips of actual classes.  In less than 10 minutes you will essentially have your lesson plan DONE!  Easily accessible by your staff, too. Your style; our supprt! 

**Be among the first to request FREE stuff! Follow this link to submit your request.**


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Can pre-schoolers really learn martial arts?

preschool kids in martial arts uniforms

Pre-schoolers are capable of learning a lot, but most are not ready for any formal martial arts training. However, there are many reasons to enroll a 3, 4 or 5 year old child in a “martial arts based” program.

Martial arts for pre-schoolers can be great for social interaction 

The reason this blog exists is to help other martial artists learn from our mistakes! Our first attempt at instructing 3 to 5 year olds was a disaster. We simply used the same curriculum we were teaching the older kids. That was a big mistake and actually cost us students that we could have potentially kept for years. Do not attempt to teach formal martial arts to pre-schoolers!

Instead we realized that we could introduce tiny aspects of our particluar style while providing structured social interaction. That is what this young age group is capable of accomplishing and is what they need to flourish among future school-mates and friends.

Be true to your art while helping youngsters feel a sense of achievement

We know that years of training to become a master instructor and school owner involved an appreciation of  culture and tradition.  While older children understand the importance of training the mind through a pre-class meditation; pre-schoolers are having none of that! An instructor can, however, teach focus through what we like to call a 30-second ninja drill.  Youngsters are challenged to stay perfectly still and quiet for 30 seconds so he or she becomes invisible like a ninja. Does your style of martial art incorporate any type of meditation? Or demand focus from students? Do you expect students to listen while you are instructing? Well that 30-second ninja drill just did the same thing – only at a pre-school level!

Pre-schoolers can learn what is expected in a martial arts class

Think of a martial arts class for pre-schoolers as preparation for your beginner level kid’s classes. This younger age group is not developed enough to be on the mat with the big 6 years olds; they end up feeling overwhelmed. Teaching a pre-schooler how to take turns, share with others, and have respect for teachers and classmates is a great way to prepare them for the next step! Quick and fast paced drills, like 30-second ninja, will keep youngsters interested and excited about his or her martial arts classes.

 Little Eagles® Martial Arts can help you teach pre-school classes

We have learned through 20 years of experience how to run a succesful martial arts program for 3, 4 and 5 year olds.  Instructors should make their classes engaging for this age group while teaching valuable social skills all at the same time! We know what games and drills work to instill these characteristics in our youngest of students! Little Eagles® Martial Arts offers quick streaming and downloadable video clips of actual classes for instructors to use in their own pre-school martial arts classes! Your style and our support can mean new students and successful  classes for you.  

**Request FREE samples of Little Eagles® Martial Arts marketing items! Follow this link to submit your request.**