Why Our Little Dragons Are Getting A BIG Upgrade
The Science & Psychology Behind SKILLZ
Master Melody, as she is known to her students, started training in the martial arts in 1987 as an 11-year old, when things were were very different than they are today. Kids and adults trained side-by-side in many schools back then and everyone tested on the same material for rank, regardless of age. Needless to say, kids usually didn’t make it very far before dropping out because the training became too challenging.
The young Melody stuck it out because her parents saw the many benefits of martial training as far as discipline goes, and she ultimately became a school owner at the age of 19! She immediately started to make changes to the way she taught martial arts compared to the way she was taught. For starters, she took the kids out of the adult classes (as we’ve always done it at the Blue Dragon School). Then I she took her experience from working at Disney and added “entertainment” into her children’s classes. The results were incredible!
As her school continued to grow, she kept studying the way kids learn. What she discovered is that martial arts programs could be one of the most effective tools for helping children grow as a whole, more so than any other sport or activity. From that moment, SKILLZ was born…
Based on all of the research that Master Melody did on children and learning, she discovered that children show developmental milestones based on specific age groups. These age groups – as they pertain to martial arts – are especially noteworthy at 3-4 and 5-6. There are additional stages above that, and as with anything the transitional ages at the age of 7 and above can be flexible based on each individual child, and at the Blue Dragon School our Juniors Kung Fu starts at the age of 8, though kids who have gone through much of the Little Dragons classes are sometimes moved up at the age of 7 if and when it is appropriate.
By sub-dividing age groups we can avoid common challenges such as “roller coaster classes” where almost EVERY drill was “too hard” for the younger students yet “too easy” for the older students.
Another real strength of the SKILLZ curriculum is that within these age groups their development can also be sub-divided into four categories: physical, intellectual, emotional, and social. This enabled Master Johnson to create age-specific curriculums that helped develop each student as a whole; what she calls, ‘4-dimensional instruction.’
Most other martial arts schools, sports and activities still only focus on the physical and intellectual aspects of training. This breakthrough means that we will target students’ stages of development with a curriculum that generates MAXIMUM results.
The SKILLZ Curriculum
Once the students’ stages of development are understood, the meticulous task of creating curriculum through what Master Melody calls a “reverse training concept.” In other words, instead of trying to pound martial arts training into each age group, the top eight skills (or SKILLZ as Master Johnson refers to them) that children are accustomed to in their particular stage of development are built into the martial arts curriculum. She also made sure that the progression was so significant that by the time the student graduates from each program, they fall into the top 10% of their age group!
Integrating Systems That MAXIMIZE Learning
Once the SKILLZ curriculum was created, her final step was to create a system in which instructors were able to maximize learning. For starters, we deliver a floor chat after the warm-up in each class that initiates ACTIVE LEARNING, which in a nutshell is getting the students’ neurons to start firing. Secondly, we use game-based learning drills that kids “play” so that their WORKING MEMORY is stimulated. This basically means that within each student’s brain their neurons start to develop new connections; what scientists refer to as “neural growth.’ Once their brain is developing neural connections at top speed, the last major segment of class is when they test for their skill-stripe, which helps foster FLUID INTELLIGENCE. This process is described at the brain’s ability to retain and reference information more efficiently.
Not All Schools Are Created Equal
As you can see, SKILLZ takes training to a whole new level! In fact, kids can’t even join their first class without an age-specific pre-evaluation to identify where his or her strengths are, and also how SKILLZ will help in his or her overall growth and development. SKILLZ is a product with several decades of ongoing research and development in how children learn and grow. The overall results are children that become better versions of themselves: physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially!
Shifu Raymond Ahles is always looking to improve the student experience and is excited to be adding the SKILLZ curriculum to the Little Dragon program at the Blue Dragon School of Martial Arts. He and his team are ready and able to help your child through the natural stages of development using the vehicle of martial arts so they can excel at home, school, and in life. He will monitor your training and sparring and make suggestions when he sees some area in which you may be lacking. Fill in the form to request more information or call 201-385-3130 today and get your child started or started again!