By Lee Deline

Guest Column

When Jack first joined the kwoon, I didn’t think I’d be able to help my son with Kung Fu outside of the school. I’m sure many parents feel this way as well, but I eventually came to appreciate there are a number of ways I can support and prepare him for class so he can make the best of each learning opportunity.

One of the most important is in helping find the time for your young student to practice. Practice is essential to learning Kung Fu, reinforcing what’s been taught so it’s not forgotten between classes and by making sure through repetition it’s a part of muscle memory.

We can and should expect kids to practice but what we can’t do is assume they’ll make the time for it. I consider helping Jack find the time to practice my responsibility because I’m already largely deciding how he spends his day – when he eats, when he sleeps, when he goes to other activities and so on. What free time he does have he’d like to use playing with friends and having fun.

As he’s gotten older, Jack understands the need to practice and enjoys it but it’s still my job to help him plan his time. We started by scheduling only 15-20 minutes on days when he doesn’t have class. That felt like a simple and realistic goal and, since we had other activities and things to do, it made sure Jack wouldn’t be tired or feel rushed. That still added up to well over an hour each week and if we missed a day that was okay because we could make it up somewhere else.

practiceAnother thing we can all help our kids is to create a practice plan. It’s one thing to say “Go practice.” it’s also another for the student to decide what to practice and that decision can be overwhelming or they might simply opt for what’s the easiest. A plan can make sure they not only practice current requirements but their older forms and skills as well. You can spread it out over the course of the week and separate everything by belt level, by type or just randomly to mix it up.

The weekly practice plan also helps us know what to make up for if we miss a day, which happens all the time! There’s a lot going on in life, but being organized with a plan means we can miss a practice but not skip what needs to be practiced. We are also forgiving of how long we practice if time is pressing. As Sifu Lloyd once told me, ten minutes of practice is better than none at all.

As a football coach and as a parent, I can guarantee that supporting your child to practice at home becomes its own reward, paying off on the investment you’ve not only made in Kung Fu, but in your child as well.