Safety

Are the instructors attentive? Do they give clear directions? Are there a lot of injuries? Injuries can happen as they do in any sport, but excessive injuries can be a sign of a problem with the school or teacher.

Structure

Is the class organized? Does it seem like there is some kind of plan? Are the students learning a specific skill or technique? Is there order in the class? Who is in control, the teacher or the students?

Teacher’s Demeanor

Is the teacher like a drill instructor, doling out punishments? This is not a great sign and is usually indicates a lack of experience or empathy, sometimes both. A good teacher will be no-nonsense, but not cruel. They will maintain control without being petty or too permissive. A good teacher is passionate about the Art he/she teaches and consequently should be grateful to have your child as their student. 

Fun

The students should be learning, following directions, and accomplishing tasks, but also having some fun. It shouldn’t be drudgery. There should be a good mixture of work, learning, and having fun. If your child learned something new and is sweaty with a smile on their face, that is probably a pretty good class.

Observe the class

Parents should observe the class at least a few times. This means you must actually observe the class. Far too many times, I have had parents observe my class, and they are on their device not even watching what is going on. Remember that you are assessing how the teacher is teaching and how your child is doing.

Many times I have had children do amazing things in their first lesson and looked up to see a parent with their eyes down scrolling through a screen. Parents must focus to make sure the class will deliver what they are looking for.

Observe the other Students

Some schools can have success initially with a lot of beginning students however an important sign of a healthy school is the mixture of different belt ranks in the classes. A good school will have systems in place to develop students beyond that initial beginners phase and develop those students through intermediate and on to advanced level training.

Watch the senior grade students and ask yourself,

Do they look like they could defend themselves? Are their techniques sharp and powerful?

What is their attitude towards their classmates and junior students? Are they friendly, humble and supportive or do they appear aloof and arrogant even?

Would you like these people as a peer group or role models for your child?

 

Parental Participation

Try to do the class yourself. I have had parents tell me that they didn’t think that their child was catching on after the first lesson! I always ask the parent, “Have you tried it?”. Trying a class for themselves usually allows a parent to realize that everything is not so easy as it seems from the back of the hall. 

A new student will always have difficulty, so that is not how you evaluate the class or your child’s abilities. Achievement will come through hard work and focus. Don’t be fooled thinking that it should be easy. Allow your child the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. This is the learning process and once your child is having fun they will, in time, excel.