9 Benefits of Martial Arts for Kids with Learning and Attention Issues
Exercise is great for every kid. But children with learning and attention issues can have a hard time finding a sport or physical activity that suits them.
They may not have the social or physical skills to participate on a team. They may not have the coordination for activities like baseball or ballet. They may find it too hard to follow rules, or they may be bullied or left out.
Many families discover that karate at American Family Martial Arts is an excellent option. Read on to learn about why martial arts can be a good fit for kids with learning and attention issues.
#1 Martial Arts focus on individual growth, not on team competition. Many kids with learning and attention issues struggle with the pressure of having to compete with other kids. So traditional sports may not appeal to them. But in karate, the focus is on self-improvement. There’s no “letting down the team.” American Family Martial Arts tournaments are based on individual performance not a team effort.
#2 Martial Arts offer concrete, attainable goals. Some kids with learning and attention issues may feel like they never “win” at anything. In martial arts, kids work at their own pace. In each class at American Family Martial Arts, they receive a colored stripe at the end of the class if they pass the mini test on material they covered that very day! They’re awarded a different colored belt every time they reach a new skill level. This happens about every 10 weeks. This can boost self-esteem and keep them motivated.
#3 Routines are broken down into manageable chunks. A technique or form in martial arts can have dozens of different movements. But kids learn gradually, repeating and adding steps as they go. They learn to anticipate which step comes next and eventually put everything together into fluid movements. All of this gives working memory a workout, but in a way that kids may find manageable. Our SKILLZ program also divides children into age appropriate groups so we aren’t expecting more or less than their age development.
#4 American Family Martial Arts emphasizes self-control and concentration. Attention is central to martial arts. Kids must stay focused to learn and to perform. During a typical karate class at American Family Martial Arts, classes are structured to keep things interesting. Students start with a warm up, have a mat chat to talk about the life skill of the month plus what skill is being covered during class, next is the actual material, then a mini challenge with a colored stripe showing they know that material, then class ends with a fun game so they leave sweating and smiling. This mom talks about her son being diagnosed with ADHD.
#5 Karate can help with coordination. The deliberate, repetitive movements of martial arts can help kids develop a better feel for their body in space, which can be useful to kids who struggle with motor skills. This may also help some kids understand the power of the mind over the body, which some find to be valuable for kids with ADHD.
#6 Karate provides structure and clear expectations for behavior. Good martial arts instructors have clear rules and constantly reinforce them. They also emphasize good behavior in and out of class. The instructors at American Family Martial Arts have completed SKILLZ training in “7 Steps for Teaching a Drill” and the “10 Laws of Instruction.”
#7 Martial Arts can provide a safe outlet for excess energy. Contrary to what some might expect, martial arts don’t encourage violent behavior. In fact, instructors often emphasize that fighting is a last resort. At the same time, kicking and karate chopping can allow kids to work out frustration or anger, while also practicing self-control.
#8 The environment is accepting and communal. Respect is a core value in martial arts. Students are expected to show it for their instructor and their peers. Negativity is generally not tolerated in class, and students are encouraged to support each other.
#9 Karate is just plain cool! Kids with learning and attention issues can often feel awkward or socially out of the loop. But lots of kids think martial arts are cool. It’s hard not to feel special when you’re wearing martial arts gear and breaking boards in half.
If you’re ready to see how Martial Arts provides a great opportunity for your child to develop higher self-esteem, find community and experience success, click the link below to learn more about American Family Martial Arts trial programs.