Victorious by TaeKwonDo

The other day my son was playing tag with his dad. At some point I heard my husband say “You will never get me!”  “Oh, yes I will,” my son responded with confidence. “If I persevere, I will!”  What four-year-old talks like that, right? Well, perhaps a TaeKwonDo student?

Our story with martial arts started last year. I was 3 months pregnant and my energy level negative. My son was three and bursting with energy. I needed to find a way for him to sweat it out while I could get some rest. A fellow mom suggested a local TaeKwonDo studio, Gold Medal Martial Arts.  All I knew about martial arts was what I had learned from  “The Karate Kid” and “Kung Fu Panda”.  My choice wasn’t most educated, but I decided to give it a try. We went to watch a practice.  My son was mesmerized with the high-speed action on the mat, a strange language of commands and colorful belts, that must have meant something. Yet, it took him a few classes to actively participate and about a month to put on the ‘costume’ (a.k.a. uniform). Once he did, though, the real fun began. Kick by kick, block by block, form by form, he was excited to learn a new TaeKwonDo move.

The improved physical strength is not the only thing  he owes to TaeKwonDo.  Martial arts are about attitude. Values like perseverance, focus on the goal, discipline, doing one’s best, humility or respect to parents and teachers  are seamlessly integrated in the sport, from which, they transpire into real life. The vision of becoming a black belt and responsibility that comes with it act most inspirational and motivational. Many a time, did my son want to skip the practice because he felt too tired. But then, the very thought of getting promoted to a higher rank was enough to rejuvenate him.

In other words, I think that TaeKwonDo adds a lot of value to my son’s development. It allows him to build on his physical strengths, like agility and flexibility, and suits his competitive and goal-oriented personality.  In positive and encouraging atmosphere, it teaches my son to excel in sport and in life.   What parent doesn’t want that!



“A Big Boy Now” by Eileen Spinelli

It all starts with the four wheels of the stroller. Then comes the squeaky tricycle and before you know it, your child zooms right past you on a shiny, big-kid two-wheel bike. Riding a bicycle is every child’s dream. But the dream comes with a snag. It’s called training wheels.   At first, children love the idea of having extra support, but things change quickly. What used to be comforting turns into nuisance. Your child can’t wait to get rid of the training wheels. Riding a two-wheeler is what big kids do!  But here comes the dilemma: what about falling?

A  little bunny was getting big. He knew how to get dressed all by himself or  fix his cereal. He helped dad to wash the car. Yet, he still rode a bike with training wheels. He wanted to learn riding on two wheels but what if he fell and cried? Do big boys cry?  According to mommy even daddy cries sometimes and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. The bunny gave it a try. Predictably, he did fall. And predictably, his mommy was there with a band-aid. Scratched knees heal quickly and riding a two-wheeler is so much big-boy fun!

A warm and reassuring story for every child not quite yet ready to give a big-kid bike a try. Whether it is the fear of falling or failing, the little bunny proves that there is nothing to be afraid of. And nothing to be embarrassed, either. Scratching your knee and shedding some tears can happen regardless of age.

Our son said good-bye to his training wheels when he was 3. He was making progress without them, but then we got him a scooter. In comparison, our son found riding a bike  “too hard” and barely looked at it. As a result, the training wheels made a triumphant come-back.

Just like the little bunny, our son is afraid of falling and losing control. As some skating coach said, our main mistake (in skating) is trying to avoid falling, instead of preparing for it. I think it is also valid for biking and beyond. I hope to instill the idea in our son. Not much luck so far, but I am sure that sooner or later, due to his own readiness or peer pressure, he will put on the helmet, hop on the bike and ride it like the wind. Or like a big boy. Until he is 16, that is. Then his love for the four wheels will magically revive and I won’t be able to find my car keys anymore.

“Froggy Learns to Swim” by Jonathan London

If you have ever been to the Polish Lake District, where I grew up, you know that swimming is just what we do over there in the summer. We basically swim through the summer. Kids don’t take swim classes, but somehow they all know at least the dog style stroke by  the 1st grade. I was taught how to swim by my grandpa, but my younger brothers learned how to swim by watching his older friends. After all, we start our lives in water and being able to float is encoded in our brain. Just to give you a little example, I’ve been bringing my younger son to the pool since he was 3 months old. Of course, as a baby, he doesn’t have the muscle power yet to swim, but he naturally floats, kicks his legs and shows no signs of distress whatsoever, even when submerged.  To delight of my older son, who has recently mastered the basic strokes and can’t wait to swim together with his little bro. I am sure he wouldn’t mind swimming with his friends either, but none of them swim for fun! They all take swim classes. Seriously, I know that raising another Michael Phelps is many parents’ dream, but really? Do we need an instructor to teach our children this very basic life skill? (Of course if the time in the pool awakens a dolphin in our child and they choose to learn to swim to beat Michael Phelps, a good coach is a must.) Secondly, teaching our children to swim is a great bonding opportunity, play time, can be lots of family fun. Why not to take advantage of it. And if you need some teaching ideas, Froggy’s mom has plenty of effective tools at hand.

Froggy went to the beach but didn’t want to get in the water. When he finally landed there willy-nilly with a big splash, his mother showed him how to swim like a real frog. He was making bubbles under water and toot-tooting above the water. He learned how to move his arms and legs by  playing chicken- airplane- soldier game. And once he got the hang of it, there was no way to make his get out of the water.

And who can blame him! Swimming is a great sport for kids. It’s great way to cool off on a sunny day, does wonders to children’s posture, builds up strength and stamina and works up healthy appetite.  And last but not least, just an hour in the water and your child  goes to bed early and sleeps like a rock. Meanwhile, you have some well deserved peace and quiet.

1bookperday in May

With April already gone and the topic of sports and books about sports not fully exploited yet, I decided to continue the active theme in May. After all, some states and countries have barely got rid of the wintry weather (not Minnesota, though) and would gladly swap skis and skates for bikes and swimsuits, wouldn’t they?

This month I have a couple of books that should inspire your children to take up swimming and biking. In my opinion, you just can’t pass your childhood without learning those vital life skills. There is so much fun waiting for children in the pool and even more on two wheels. Besides, we haven’t been to a park with our books yet and I haven’t told you about the sport my son is currently into. Luckily, we have the whole sunny May to catch up.