Everyone would agree that martial arts have far reaching benefits for children. Perhaps, your child is interested in trying martial arts but you are really not sure where to start or what to ask. With tighter budgets and tighter schedules, I thought it would be beneficial to go over what is important for parents to ask when checking out different martial art schools beyond the type of art, location and schedule.
First, let’s talk money. There is nothing worse than having your child excited about something, only to find out that it is going to cost you a lot more money than you expected. Here are my TOP financial questions to ask.
Every school charges monthly tuition. While it is important to find out how much the tuition is monthly, there can be other hidden fees that you may not be aware of.
1) Ask what the testing fees are for each belt? Most schools charge them. They can be anywhere from $35 to $100 per test. These fees can really add up as there are an average 10-15 belts to Black Belt. If you have more than one child training this can get overwhelming. This is an important one to find out.
2) Ask what the cancellation policy is. Some schools require a contract or a multi month commitment. The problem with this is if your child no longer is interested in taking martial arts, you may be required to continue paying the remainder of the commitment.
3) Ask if you need to purchase the initial karate uniform or if it is provided. If you have to purchase the first uniform and patches, this can cost you $30 and up. Also, ask about any additional equipment, tournament fees, initial enrollment fees, or even Organization dues that may be required.
4) What happens if you go on vacation or you child needs to take a break for period of time. Ask if the tuition can be frozen during that time. Along with this, if your child takes an extended break (3 months.. 1 year… 5 years, etc.) ask whether or not your child retains the rank they earned or whether they will need to start over at white belt. Believe it or not, some schools do this.
5) This may seem premature but make sure to ask if your child trains to Black Belt; Ask where the Black Belt testing will take place. Some schools require the student to travel to the Black Belt test outside of Connecticut. This additional travel can be extremely expensive and disappointing if your entire family can’t be at the Black Belt test. This is why it is important to ask these things up front.
6) If you have more than one child that is interested in training, make sure to ask if the school offers multi-family member discounts. If so, how much can you save? This can vary greatly school to school.
7) Ask what types of method of payment are available. Not all schools accept credit cards.
Next thing is Safety-Things to look at when visiting the perspective schools.
1) Is the facility clean, allergen free and well kept? Are the bathrooms clean? Do they disinfect the mats every night?
2) Is there a parking lot? Is the facility and its parking lot well lit?
3) Can you stay and watch your child train?
4) Is the equipment newer and in good shape?
5) Is it handicap accessible? Possibly Grandma walks with a cane, she will definitely want to attend her Grandchild’s test. Is the facility conducive for that?
Don’t forget – Convenience.
1) Convenience dropping off or picking up. It may not seem like a big deal but if you have other children, being able to watch your child run ahead into the school as you are getting your other children out of the car or there is a short walk to the door can make a big difference over time.
2) Schedule is a huge factor. Not only does it fit into your schedule but do you have the flexibility to change the day your child attends week to week to fit your schedule?
3) How available is the staff to text, call or email to with a prompt response? This can make a big difference in the amount of frustration you experience.
Lastly, look at the adders in addition to the martial arts kicks, punches, blocks.
Does the school teach practical preventative self-defense and hands on self-defense? Is this martial art effective if my attacker is much larger and stronger than me? Is the martial art effective if it is a friend or family member I need to escape from? But more importantly, is this school teaching and running drills that teach your child powerful Life Skills that they will use throughout their lives to allow them to live their TOP life? Skills like eye contact, how we talk, how we listen, stand tall, accept responsibility, keep your word, respect and integrity just to name a few.
Hope this helps you on your journey of finding the right martial arts school fit for your child or even for yourself.
Master Ellen 🙂
Master Ellen Reichelt
TOP Martial Arts and Fitness For Life Shelton, CT