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Tips for Teaching Parkour to Kids
If you’ve ever watched a child playing, it’s usually not hard to see the similarities between what they naturally want to do and some basic parkour moves. Take a kid to a playground, and they will have no problem running, jumping, climbing, and testing their balance and skill levels on every piece of equipment possible.
Best of all? They’re just having fun doing it.
So, why not harness that fun and include parkour in school gyms across the country? Some schools are actually starting to go that route. It’s easy to set up parkour “obstacles,” it’s a great way to get kids interested in physical activity, and with a little DIYing, it can be an inexpensive sport to introduce into a curriculum.
Some people even believe parkour should replace gymnastics in school thanks to the way it builds movement generalists and applies safety and real-world usefulness.
We’re not here to throw any digs at gymnastics, but we’re definitely behind the idea.
If you’re interested in teaching parkour to kids, whether in a school setting or via private classes, there are a few things to keep in mind. Let’s check out some of the benefits kids can experience from parkour, and how you can teach them in the safest way possible.
How Do Kids Benefit From Parkour?
If we listed all of the benefits kids (and adults, for that matter) could experience from parkour, you’d be reading for hours. As far as integrating parkour into school curricula, it can help with a variety of different physical skills that gym teachers and coaches strive for, including:
- Learning to avoid serious injuries
- Helping to develop bone strength
- Building cardiovascular endurance
- Strengthening the core
With the obesity rate for kids in the U.S. still at a staggering high, finding ways for them to stay active is crucial. That’s just another reason why parkour is so beneficial. With it, kids can take care of their physical health and have fun doing it.
Physical health benefits are great. If parkour is the thing that gets kids off the couch and looking away from electronic devices, that’s just one more benefit. But, the mental health benefits and habits it can build are the true shining factors.
Parkour can develop character and build courage. It can boost self-esteem and help kids to become more disciplined. It also is a great way to encourage kids to try new things and overcome their fears. It also is a wonderful way to reduce stress and be more mindful in the moment. Those are life lessons they’ll take with them well into adulthood.
Get the Kids On Board
One of the first obstacles (no pun intended – okay, maybe a little) you might face in teaching parkour is getting kids excited about it. Some may have never heard of it. Others might be scared to try.
For some kids, parkour can be the perfect way to learn new things. According to Kolb’s experiential learning theory, some kids go through stages to effectively learn something new, ending with active experimentation. Parkour is a fantastic way to connect with those kids and to get them excited to learn more.
There are plenty of ways to get kids excited about trying parkour. Show them some videos of people who do it well. Or, purchase some uniforms or swag if you’re starting your own team/club and need some gear. Kids love free stuff as much as adults, and most are proud to wear something they think is cool or “elite” somehow.
Another way to get them excited is to introduce them to parkour games. Running a course or trying individual obstacles might feel overwhelming at first, especially for young kids. Integrating games into your training is fantastic for boosting their confidence and building up their abilities to train with purpose. Plus, the games will be fun for you, too. It’s never a bad idea to get back to your roots and remind yourself why you love this sport so much.
Make Parkour Memorable
Parkour is about so much more than physical movement. You’re going to work with kids who are strong and coordinated and others who need time to build up that strength and stability. It’s important to assess each child’s skill level individually so you can create a plan that works for them.
But, no matter a child’s physical skill, parkour can teach other crucial lessons. If you’re the one in charge, it’s up to you to make sure those lessons stick their landings.
One of the biggest lessons you should be focused on is that every action has a consequence. Sometimes those consequences are positive, sometimes they’re negative. Many times, kids will be fearless enough to try something on a course without thinking it through. That could result in injury or they might put others at risk. Teaching your students that every action they take has meaning is a major learning point that needs to be the heart and soul of parkour. When all of your students understand how important their actions are, it can reduce chaos in a class setting, and make your students more mindful when it comes to what they’re doing.
Once your students recognize the consequences of their actions, you can focus on other crucial learning moments, including:
- Building a desire to explore
- Communicating with others
- Showing confidence
- Knowing limits
- Understanding how to stay safe
Teaching things like balance and how to land safely are more than just physical training exercises. They are more tools that your students can take with them for a lifetime.
It’s easy for some people to stereotype parkour. It’s a street sport – there’s no denying that. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be harnessed and brought into a class setting. It’s such a fantastic way to teach kids about physical and mental health while letting them be kids and have fun. If you’re interested in teaching parkour or you think it should be included in your child’s curriculum, keep these tips in mind to get started. You could end up coaching the next generation of parkour superstars.