ABC’s extracurricular programs are all about the kids, but sometimes it’s important to shine a light on others who make the program thrive. For ABC’s More than Martial Arts program, offered at Mt. Airy and Hartwell Elementary Schools, much of the success has been thanks to the parents of the students enrolled in the program.
Students in More Than Martial Arts, a partnership between ABC and Five White Tigers, participate two days per week for three hours after school, which includes an hour dedicated to helping students with homework and social emotional learning. During training, students learn:
Students are expected to adhere to a codified system of ethics. Rather than focus on the combative elements of the sport, Master RJ Trusty spends training time teaching values such as self-respect, self-discipline, integrity, and patience. He also holds the students to high standards regarding the student’s appearance, including the cleanliness of their uniform and how they tie their belt, and teachers them to respect authority figures (those of a higher rank).
Master RJ Trusty greatly values the impact that increased parental involvement has had over the past couple of years. “Having parents and grandparents attend the tournament and cheer their children on is great for the kid’s self-esteem!” Parents who actively participate in the practices and after-school training feel positive about the impact that martial arts training is having on their children, and encourage more parents to get involved in the program. One parent said:
“Extracurricular activities help to improve students academically and socially. Kids need to be involved to improve their character and overall development. Zac is becoming a more confident kid with reading, has a better attention span and listens more. He is having fun and his body is getting stronger.”
Another parent noticed their student had obtained “better balance and more focus”. They felt that parent participation in the program “helps build confidence and independence (finding likes and dislikes). Also, the program motivates them to do well in school and at home.”
The martial arts program provides parents a variety of ways to get involved, including helping out with uniform prep, holding boards, loading, and unloading of equipment at Martial Arts tournaments, and making sure tournament participants have lots of healthy snacks during the day-long events. Parents who opt to simply observe during practices are still impacting their child’s progress; their moral support and words of encouragement boost the participant’s energy and determination.
The impact that More Than Martial Arts is having in the classroom has gotten even more parents excited about their child’s participation in the program. Because the children in the program thrive, they have more confidence and better focus in the classroom. This leads to students getting better grades and takes some of the strain off of educators, allowing them to focus more on teaching and less on discipline.
In addition to learning self-respect, self-discipline, integrity, and patience, martial arts students also learn how to handle conflict in a non-violent way. “We teach the students to use their words first. We give them tools that help them react to various situations. Students are taught that fighting should always be looked at as a last resort,” explained Master Trusty. According to Master Trusty, teachers are constantly giving him positive feedback about the students whom he trains. “They’d really like to see martial arts training year-round!”
“Be present,” encouraged another parent of a martial arts student, when asked how parents can best help students succeed. Parents who are active in their child’s extracurricular activities send a strong message that these activities are important. Additionally, most students perform better when their parents are watching.
For parents with a limited amount of time to get involved, one way of getting involved is having the students demonstrate what they have learned to their family at home. Asking the student to teach a parent about the moves in a form or technique is another very effective way to help the student achieve.
Master Trusty adds, “even parents with busy schedules can find some way to get involved in the martial arts program.” He encourages parents to have a conversation with their child’s coach to see what opportunities exist. Simply dedicating a small amount of time can play a huge role in a child’s performance in their activity and in the classroom.