Our Words Are Very Powerful

We have been focusing on RESPECT for the last month. While respect covers many things, we have honed in on the importance of the words we use!

What is respect?

We started the month out by asking the kids  to define respect. You might want to ask them and see if anything “stuck”!

We asked “What does it mean to respect someone?” (We steered them to “it means you think something good about them and that they are important to you.”)

We asked “Should we respect everyone?” (Hopefully that gets a resounding YES!)

And finally we asked “How do we show respect?”

If you have this conversation and your mind goes blank, think: using please and thank you; not doing or saying anything to hurt them; following directions right away; doing what is asked with a  good attitude :-)! These are all ways we show respect.

What’s the most important way we respect the karate school?

Ok, trick question. I bet you answered “by taking care of it!” And you’d be right. Which goes to show it can be tricky to ask a question with an answer in mind!

What’s the first thing we do when we enter the dojo?

Now you have it! Yes, we bow in. For Okinawans, that is how they show respect. 

So we talked with the kids about how habits can help us keep a positive mindset – in this case, every time we bow in, we remember how important our school and everyone in it is. We are reminded to be ready to learn and try our best.

We also started them on the habit of thanking their parents (or whoever brought them) for taking them to karate class. We didn’t focus it on enough to create a habit — maybe you can remind them!

How do we respect our bodies?

One week we focused on taking care of ourselves AND others by keeping our bodies clean! Yup, this time of year we always seem to need a reminder that our hot stinky bodies need to be washed regularly!

Our words are very powerful!

We ended up in the same place we started: in order to show respect to people, we need to make sure we don’t harm them with anything we do or SAY.

It’s important for us to recognize how powerful our words are. They can lift and encourage, or tear down and destroy. We’ve all been on the receiving end of words that have stayed with us a very long time. 

Words are funny in that they can’t be taken back. Even after apologizing, you can’t unhear the words. 

They are also funny in that words have different impacts on us. Negative words are very heavy, sticky and take many more positive words to begin to undo damage.

That’s why we need to be so careful about what we say.

QUICK to listen, ssllooww to speak!

Have you ever been “listening” to someone while you’re thinking about what you’re going to tell them? You’re so focused on what you’re going to say next that you really don’t hear a word the other person is saying?

That’s how we get into trouble and say things we wish we hadn’t! 

That’s not respecting ourselves and it’s not respecting others. We are missing out on what the other is saying — it could be really important! — and we’re not giving the other person the benefit of listening to what they have to say,

But when we really LISTEN to others, and really try to understand what they’re telling us, not just waiting for a pause so we can say what we’re thinking about while they’re talking — then we’re REALLY respecting ourselves and others.

Try this week so be QUICK to LISTEN and sssllllooowww to speak. See if there isn’t a change in your interactions with others.

Especially for Little Ninjas and Golden Dragons:

It’s really hard to talk about respect with the little ones. It’s easier to require them to ACT respectfully, and they understand that their are rules and they’re learning to follow them.

Respect is easier “caught” than “taught” so that’s why we have all the structure and codes of behavior for karate class. 

We did share the story of The Mouse and the Lion.  When the mouse showed the great lion a huge amount of respect, it softened the lion and the mouse was let go. 

Indeed, the recipient of respect again had the opportunity to respect the lion by chewing through a net that had trapped the lion! 

Respect and gratitude are cornerstones to a happy life!


Summer Fun Includes Summer Learning!

Never stop learning!

Summer is about to start!  Are you ready?  We know that family time and vacations are a huge part of summer and rightfully so.

However, should the learning process stop just because it’s summer? We say NO, and we’re here to help. Let us be the bad guys to help keep your kids sharp and ready for school when it starts back up.

I think we all know that successful people never stop learning.  Successful people are constantly looking for ways to improve and to just work smarter, not harder. How do they do this? They never stop learning!

If a child struggles at reading, math or any other thing they do in school they will probably not like school. If they struggle with school, they will probably struggle with life. So, the love of learning is huge.

Summer Learning Program

This summer the “Summer Learning Program” returns for our students. In the past we have not made this program mandatory but we feel that the learning process is so important for kids that this year we are making it mandatory. We want them to continue their progress that they made throughout the school year. We feel that this will give your kids a leg up if they just do a few simple things this summer.

Now here is the key, they DO NOT have to love learning (not at the start).  They just need to DO IT!  Like most things in life starting something new or something you are not good at yet is hard. This is where you come in. If your child already loves learning, you have it made. If your child does not absolutely love learning, then we have some work to do.

We don’t want them to study for hours on end but we do want to keep them using their brains and always thinking about learning. You can bet many kids will be moaning and groaning about doing some of this but you have the option to tell them, “Well, Sensei wants you to do this so let’s get going”. Create the culture that learning never stops, not ever!

In the past we have focused on reading over the summer and our parents have found this program to be very valuable. While reading is huge for your children, there is more to learning and this summer we want to add in some math learning skills.

How to be successful with Summer Learning this year

All athletes know that their biggest gains and improvements are made in the off season, the same rule applies to kids when it comes to learning. I think you will like some of the improvements we have made and added to the program this year. Here are some tips and guidelines to help you and your child excel:

  1.  This program is mandatory.  Everyone is expected to participate but like everything else in life – you get what you put into it!  Here is a suggestion – start out strong.  Get excited about this program and send the signal to your child that this is important TO YOU.  Now it is up to you how much they do but just make sure that they do something every day!
  2. Learn every day.  This may seem hard to some but it really is not.  Here is the key – just make it a small habit and use a good trigger.  For example, pick something you do every day that has some quiet time before or after.  Right after dinner at home.  Or, right before bedtime.  Or, first thing in the morning while everyone is cuddling in Mom’s bed.  And, don’t worry about how much learning they do just do a little every day. Reading can easily be done every day. The math application problems can be a fun addition to any day! Games are great for learning basic math skills, and many games are great for learning strategy.
  3. Keep it fun.  Take advantage of the fact that during the school year they often need to learn things that are not all that thrilling.  During the summer, they can read what they like and do math in creative ways.  So don’t worry if they read books, magazines or comic books. Counting change, telling time, how many cheerios are floating in their cereal, etc. Let them have fun.
  4. Make books and math exercises accessible.  Have books around the house.  Have books in the car.  Always have books with you.  Have books that you read too. When shopping, help kids calculate change or discounts. When watching a baseball game, talk about what players’ statistics mean. When cooking, try halving or doubling a recipe, and assist kids in figuring out the new proportions.
  5. Don’t  underestimate the power of choice.  Kids will read books they like.  Help your child find their interest.  Building their interest can help even reluctant and struggling learners. Find those things that you know they like and use them to your advantage.
  6. Make learning a family culture.  This last one is probably the most powerful.  To make this stick and have the whole family benefit – make learning a family culture.  Kids learn by example.  They best way to motivate your child to read is to read yourself!  Start by saying this all the time – “Our family loves to read – we read every day!”  Then turn off the TV and video games and have daily family reading time.  Another tip is to have Mom or Dad read to everyone or have older siblings read to their younger siblings. You can do the same thing with math.

How to add in math?

Board games and card games can be a great, easy way to practice math skills. GAMES are the natural go-to for having fun while developing math skills, but here are some other ideas and things to do with your children:

A Cold One

A lemonade stand is a classic summertime activity for kids, and math is needed to keep it up and running. Younger kids can work on measuring and money-counting by mixing the lemonade and making change for customers. Older kids can be in charge of setting the price by determining the cost per serving and setting a profit margin.

Sports Spectator

The next time you take your child to a baseball game, add in a few math games while you cheer your favorite team.
Have your child play umpire and ask her to keep count of each batter’s balls and strikes. Additionally, she can keep track of the outs every inning, and how many innings are left before the game is over. Ask her questions, such as which inning marks the halfway point in the game, and how many runs the losing team needs to catch up.
If a player on one of the teams is close to breaking a home run record, have your child figure out how many more home runs he needs to meet and break the record.

Kitchen Fun

If you’ve got a sous chef on your hands, there is no better place than the kitchen to turn cooking and baking into a math lesson. Give your younger child tasks like sorting ingredients or counting how many eggs you need for a certain recipe. Older kids can work on number recognition and fractions by helping to measure ingredients, turning the oven to the correct temperature (with adult supervision), and dividing up the servings.

Grow Interest in Numbers

Avid gardeners know a little something about math, like how far apart your vegetable rows need to be or how deep a seed needs to be planted. The next time you’re sowing some seeds, ask your child to help. When harvest time rolls around, he’ll be proud to show off the fruits of his labor. Gardening as a family is a great way to spend time together, learn about nature, and eat nutritiously. The math part is a bonus.

Mall Math

Math problems abound at the mall, and many stores have summertime sales. The next time your teen’s favorite store is having a sale, take him shopping. Ask him how much he will be saving on a certain sale item. If a $25 item is 20 percent off, how much does it cost?

You can mix and match different prices and discounts, add several sale items together, and have your teen create an outfit from a pre-set budget. He might be surprised to see how much percentages, fractions, and decimals matter to one of his favorite pastimes.

Errand Arithmetic

The next time you take your child with you while you run errands, turn it into a learning activity. Calculating time and mileage is a fun way for your child to pass the time in the car. For example, if the grocery store is three miles away, how long does he think it will take you to get there? If you have several errands to run, ask your child how far away he thinks each destination is from the other, and then clock it to see how close his guess is.

Another fun car game is to use the numbers on license plates as an addition and subtraction lesson. Ask your child to add or subtract all the numbers he sees on the license plates you pass. Not only will he be learning math, you’ll be getting your errands done.

Sew Easy

Is sewing a favorite pastime that you would like to pass on to your child? The dog days of summer are a great time to teach your child this hobby, and math plays a big part in it. Sewing, knitting, and crocheting all use math to create pieces of clothing, quilts, or wall hangings: counting rows on a sock, adding yarn to make a piece bigger, multiplying to figure out how many times a certain color will fit across a motif. The possibilities are endless.

Eating Out

Busy summer days mean you don’t always have time to cook dinner at home. The next time you eat out as a family, use it as a math lesson. Ask your child to figure out the tip, and play a guessing game to see how much you think the bill will come to.

Countdown to Fun

Pool parties, picnics, and cookouts are summer activities to look forward to. If your child has a fun event coming up, start a countdown. The lesson is two-fold: It’ll improve her time-telling skills, and it’ll help pass the time until the event. For example, if she has a friend’s birthday party coming up in four days, ask her how long that is in days, hours, and minutes. You can even start a countdown for each of these.

Neighborhood Walk

Take a walk around your neighborhood or a local park, and look for different shapes and patterns in nature. For example, how far apart are the telephone poles from each other in your neighborhood? Are they all the same distance, or do they vary? Is there a pattern? This lesson can also be done with trees, fire hydrants, or flowers in a garden.

In addition, ask your child to find a living thing that is a square, rectangle, or circle. With so much to see and find, he’ll never know that you’re working on his geometry skills.

Bottom Line

Go out and have fun this summer! Just be sure to include reading and math so when school restarts your kids will be all set for success!