In the “old school” it was considered poor practise to allow parents to observe their children doing their martial arts classes. Were they hiding something, or was there a reason for this policy? A lot has changed, with parents now encouraged to watch and sometimes take part in the running of classes. What are the pros and cons of parents being allowed to watch the classes?
Arguments in Favour of Allowing Parents to watch Kids Martial Arts Classes
First, let’s explore the arguments in favour of allowing parents to watch the classes. There are many.
Right to Know What Goes On
It is the parent’s right to see what goes on in the classes. The parents are paying for them, and they need to see if they are getting value for money. They need to see if their child is getting anything out of the classes. There is a lot of competition for their dollar in the current martial arts world, and there is a good chance another school will be a better choice if they have enrolled their child in a poor school.
Better for the Kids
It is better for the kids if they are watching. Parents will remember important announcements or pick up newsletters. Kids will forget them.
Parents can give the kids feedback if the child does not seem to be getting something, as they can often see things the child may not see themselves. In addition, parents can give the instructor feedback if the child is having trouble doing something.
Encourages the Children to Do Better
They will do their best to impress you. They’ll take a greater interest in class if mom and dad is watching, and especially if they are encouraging the child. They will take more pride in their achievements, and will be more likely to practise outside of class. Parents might even be called upon to help with a class by holding kick bags or focus mitts, or managing a game. Kids love it when their parents get involved. It shows support for the school and the child.
It Protects the Child
There have been numerous cases of child abuse over the years involving karate instructors. Would this have happened if the parents had been more involved in the classes and was allowed to observe them at all times? I suspect the answer would be “no”.
There may be other reasons, of which I am not aware. This is your chance to chime in reader, hint, hint…
Arguments Against Allowing Parents to watch Kids Martial Arts Classes
Now, the arguments in favour of not allowing the parent to watch their children in martial arts classes. There are also many here.
Child Feels Self-conscious
I’ve had many parents remove themselves from the classes, complaining the children become too self-conscious if they are watching them in the classes. I suspect this arises as the child tries too hard to meet their parent’s approval.
Child Is Distracted
In some cases the child constantly checks to see if mom or dad is watching. This may also stem from trying to meet the parent’s approval.
Loud Parents Distract Class
Parents create a disturbance by loud chatting or phone conversations. This happens a lot, and is one reason many are asked to leave the hall. In other cases, siblings are not managed properly and create a disturbance, interrupting the class. Please see another post about this subject.
Parents loudly giving instruction to their children. In extreme cases I have seen parents, usually fathers, loudly correcting their children, sometimes in a foreign language. Not only is this disruptive to the class (in any language), it makes the child feel self-conscious and singled out.
Parents Comparing their Kids to Others
If a parent with a big ego sees other children progressing faster than their own they will have the tendency to accuse the sensei of favoritism, poor teaching, or other forms of incompetence. At that point, they feel they can withdraw their child from the program without any sense of guilt. In less extreme cases, the child will be made to feel they can never measure up, but will feel like quitting themselves.
There are many pros and cons on this issue. Perhaps the solution is to allow the parents to watch from an enclosed area with windows so they can see the classes, but not be a distraction. This would not always be practical, however. In any case, it is important for parents to support their children in their martial arts journey. I have written a separate blog post about this, which you might find interesting.
What are YOUR thoughts on this issue?