Life-skills are more than just a catchphrase; they are the core of our program. The most important thing that we can impart in our students. They drive what we teach and how we interact with our students. Life-skills are specific concepts, lessons, and applications. Each month we focus on developing a specific life-skill. The first thing we do is we define the life-skill.
If we are working on self-control, we start with it being the ability to control your behaviors and actions, especially during difficult situations. The definition by itself is not enough if the students cannot relate to it. We look for an example that is relatable to our students. Since most of them are kids, we use situations they can experience, such as how they are still responsible for their actions when their sibling does something they do not like. We remind our students that their feelings are normal, there is nothing with with being frustrated, angry, or anxious. Self-control is about how we act when we are feeling those emotions. If they throw a pillow at their sibling when their sibling is bothering them, we remind them that it is the wrong action to take. By throwing the pillow they are not demonstrating good self-control. But only giving them a negative example does not help them make a better choice.
We also need to teach our students how to apply self-control. It is about giving them tools to managing their feelings. We tell them to take a few deep breaths, in and out, and focus their minds on something else for moment. They can focus on something they enjoy, are good at, or ice cream. The goal is to clear their mind for moment. Then they can deal with situation, whether that is to talk to their sibling, their parents, or to walk away from the situation. There are also the life-skills developed by learning Taekwondo.
Students learn to focus their bodies. It can be hard for kids to learn when not to move and how to pay attention. Whether standing at attention or sitting cross-legged, we use specific postures and vocal reinforcement as the way we help students develop focus. The other method is the way we present information. Teaching should be engaging, with short and active demonstrations. While students are in a sitting posture, they are engaged with the demonstration, watching technique, and being asked questions to help them learn.
Students also develop cooperation working with teams and partners. We reinforce the development by teaching them to think about how they can help their partner improve. Not by teaching their partner, but by encouraging their partner and performing their role in the drill the best of their ability.
Taekwondo helps them develop their self-discipline, accountability, and commitment. It takes self-discipline to learn. It requires students to practice, making their skills better and memorizing curriculum. They are then held accountable through promotion testing by demonstrating what they have learned to earn a new belt. This requires commitment to a goal.
Together with both monthly life-skill we focus on teaching and the life-skills we develop by training make up the core of our program. Whether that it is self-control or integrity, each month we focus on a specific life-skill with the long-term goal of developing our students taekwondo skills and life-skills.