Thursday, January 31, 2008

Has it been a year?

The short answer is no. We're still a little shy of that milestone.

However, what prompted the thought was the beginning of a Taekwondo enrichment program for the school that my kids go to. We started out in the enrichment program just shy of a year ago. Last week, I got a call from the "manager" (for lack of a better term) of the dojang asking if we would mind coming to the first class of the enrichment program and share a few words about the dojang. Obviously, they want that personal connection as part of the sell. After checking our schedule, I told them that my youngest daughter and I could come.

The "enrichment program" began to fill in and I was amazed at the turnout. They had 56 kids sign up for it. Each kid paid $40 and Master Lee didn't take a dime of it. He turned it all over to the school. I realize he does this as a marketing write off but at least the school benefits.

The class started out with the demonstration team. They are all black belts and all kids (or late teens). Man, they are IMPRESSIVE. The precision with which they execute is astounding. Some of the kids do this back flip with a kick to break boards. I've seen that done before but it occurred to me that I've never seen an adult do it. I wonder if it has something to do with the smaller size of the kid and an easier ability to get the rotation.

After the demo, Master Lee then asked us to say a few words. I talked about how my kids basically are polar opposites. The youngest being outgoing and full of energy but a bit unfocused, the oldest being quiet and shy and lacking a bit of self-confidence. I then talked about how Taekwondo was teaching my kids how to be focused and more confident in themselves. However, the greatest benefit of the class has been the ability for me to spend time with my kids and actually do something with them together. I love going to class with them, spending time at home practicing together, and also discussing the whole sport with them. This is generally unlike other sports that kids sign up for. You sign your kid up for basketball and they are on the team while you are watching. Sure, you can practice with them at home but being able to work side by side together brings a whole different level of cooperation. I wouldn't trade it for any other activity we could do together.

The enrichment class then broke into their first introductory class. It was surreal being there and seeing all these people start for the first time. As a "reward for all the good things we said", Master Lee told us we could help out with the class. I asked my daughter if she wanted to stay and help and she wholeheartedly shook her head yes. I think she wanted to show off a bit for her classmates that had signed up for the class.

It was a bit odd being on the other side of the instruction. I did find myself giving pointers to the adults but leaving the kids pretty much alone. It felt a little odd giving other kids instructions while their parent was standing right next to them. My daughter didn't have any qualms about it though.

At the end of the class, I would guess about 20 of the adults also signed up for the enrichment program with their kids. I'm curious what the end "retention rate" will be. I think we're the only family that is still with the program from the first time they offered the class about a year ago.

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