Age-Specific Curriculum – What It Really Means
The term “age-specific” is used often in education and healthcare. It is used to describe things that are prepared specifically for the age and developmental level of the child or children that it is targeting. Unfortunately, this term has often been used loosely, especially in the martial arts world, when referring to “age-specific classes.”
Many martial arts schools define their “age-specific” classes as children being divided up into classes by their age. While this is an important start, the actual curriculum, and the way that it is taught, is the same for all age groups across the board in most of these programs. That is like teaching math the same way to a 5-year-old as you do to a 10-year-old! Doing this creates frustration for the student and the instructor. Any education, including physical education, ought to be done according to the child’s age and stage of development.
To provide a solution for families, the Krav Junior program was developed by Katie Fryer after earning two Master’s degrees in Education. The result is a child development course that uses Krav Maga as a vehicle for teaching. It is designed specifically for certain age groups based on the scientific facts that children at different ages have different developmental skills. Providing children with an age-specific curriculum that applies the principles of child development is ground-breaking.
The first step that Krav Junior took in the implementation of this was to separate classes by age group. Once research was complete, it was found that the children needed to be divided up in the following way: 3-5 year olds, 6-8 year olds, and 9-12 year olds. The divisions are broken down this way so that each age group can receive the best training based on their current abilities as well as areas they need to improve on.
The second step that was taken was to create a curriculum that teaches self defense at a level that is challenging yet attainable for each age group. This was made possible due to the creation of a specific curriculum for each division. In each of these division, a set of 8 skills were formed that would challenge that particular age group while also building on the foundation that they already had. Teaching Krav Maga within this framework helps children learn self defense at a level that makes goals attainable for them.
Lastly, all of the Krav Junior instructors have been extensively trained to understand the stages of development so that they know what to expect and what not to expect from each age level. In addition to this, the instructors are trained on the Zone of Proximal Development, which is a framework put forward by psychologist Zev Vygotsky that helps instructors provide individualized instruction so that each student is challenged at his or her level.
A children’s self defense program should be fun and engaging for both the student and the instructor. Creating classes that are truly age-specific is key in making this happen. When this takes place, the class becomes a child development course in addition to a Krav Maga class, which will provide more benefits to the child & will help them learn and retain the principles and techniques better. When classes are developed in the way that Krav Junior classes have, they become more powerful, fun, and easier than ever!