6 Secrets to Success with ATA Tiny Tigers- Part 1

Written by on June 7, 2011

A Scary Situation!

  You’re standing in front of FIFTEEN   3, 4, and 5-year olds about to teach some “kids karate.”   These are the youngest, newest, and lowest ranks in your school: the TINY TIGER BASIC class. Some are lying down; some are asking for a drink of water; one is crying to go see his mom; another has spit on the floor and is smearing it around; and one is sitting “like a master.”  You’re waiting for one to ask to go to the bathroom, knowing that at that point, they will all need to go.  This will happen just as class is about to start.

Your junior helper has not showed up today, so in addition to wrangling this quivering mass of little humans, there is a pile of homework sheets and award papers you need to organize for the end of class.

To make the situation even more intimating, just a few feet away are 25 parents—several with infant siblings—eagerly waiting for you to start class.  At least ONE of the infant siblings is screaming.   Other siblings are eating cheerios and goldfish and making a mess in the viewing area.  Two of these siblings lean over the viewing wall, talking to their brothers and sisters in your class.

The final shocking element that reaches your consciousness is the fact that those parents are waiting to see how you are going to generate VALUE equivalent to the $150 per month they are paying for your program.  How are you going to do that?

 You’re in good shape!

 1.      YOU’RE IN THE ATA:  Your training to become a certified instructor has prepared you to know that this group of kids learns especially well through play.

2.      The ATA TINY TIGER program, the belt system, life skills, and awards give you exactly what you need to teach.

3.      Your experience tells you that more kids from your Tiny Tiger class go further in your program than members who start at older ages.

4.      AND. . .  . You understand the SIX secrets of successful tiger instruction.

So with one “Cher ryut, kyung ney!”  You begin with confidence.

 Secret #1: Tigers become K4K, NOT black belts!

OK, let’s ruffle some feathers here!    I don’t think it’s a good idea to make TIGERS into black belts.   I think the only reason to have a TIGER program is to prepare young children to become K4K students!   That’s it!   Everything I do supports this concept—how often they advance; how the TIGER groups are blocked; how many tiger classes I have each week; what material they do; how they spar; how/when they use weapons; how/when they break boards; when they enter leadership.  Everything is geared toward preparing the child to transition to K4K around age 7 and BEFORE blue belt.

 Parents of preschoolers are looking for you!

You see, the TIGER program is great because it appeals to the segment of the market that looks for things for their preschoolers to do, especially activities that are developmentally enriching.   Young families are looking for what you have to offer in your TIGER class.  And the best part is that parents of preschoolers are much more involved in their kids activities than school-age kids.  Your TIGER parents will always be hanging around your school, watching class and asking questions.   This behavior is great because if you do proper “lobby talk,” you can be constantly educating them on the benefits of your program and “reselling” them on their investment.    This behavior is sometimes called customer service.

Parents of older children often exhibit the “drop off” syndrome.  They drop off the kid for class, never watch, never know what’s going on, then when you talk to them about purchasing gear or going to a special event, they act surprised.   It’s really hard to work with families like that.  Our experience has shown that TIGER families are the ones that stick around the longest.   In fact, in our program last year, we had 11 3rd degree black belts around age 13.  EIGHT of those 11 started as tigers!!!!    That’s an important statistic.

Parents of preschoolers WILL make a long-term commitment!

So having large tiger classes should mean—as long as you build value—that you would always have plenty of students in your K4K program.  And you don’t need to focus on making black belts out of these kids.   The parents KNOW the children are very young; they usually do not expect rapid physical progress; and, moving them quickly through belts can be a real turn-off to families who would otherwise make a really long-term commitment to your school. 

So the basic concept is that your TIGER Program’s main function is to prepare students to enter your K4K class somewhere around age 7 and no later than purple belt.   And I don’t think preparing kids for K4K class means memorizing forms and 1-steps!   It means focusing on the mental and social skills required for success in K4K.



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