Olson's Martial Arts - August 2019






At Olson’s Martial Arts Academy, Glen and I set up a reading program that aims to encourage all of our students to read more. With school just around the corner, I think it’s important for our students to continue their reading until the new school year starts, and I want to encourage kids to read outside of school, as well. Our reading program runs all year long and is very easy to participate in. Students can pick out any book they want to read for at least 30 minutes a day and log their time on the reading sheets we give them. After 10 weeks, they hand in their sheets and, during our award ceremony, can earn the reading award for their dedication and love of reading. To get the award, our students don’t have to follow the full 10 weeks if they don’t want to, but I ask that they meet the minimum requirements, which is reading every day for four weeks. At the beginning of the summer, I told my students I wanted them all to participate and gave them each a reading sheet to fill out. Around the beginning of June, about 25% of my classes were participating. While that’s a big gulf from the total I was hoping for, I’m determined that all of my students will learn how fun and rewarding reading is. The idea for the program sparked as I was looking at how the discipline we learn in martial arts transfers to other aspects of our lives. In taekwondo, when we tie our belts, we ensure they’re even to show the balance of the mind and body, as my students know. I believe that reading certainly enhances the mind, much like martial arts training enhances the body.

Since the program started, I’ve had students tell me how much they’ve enjoyed reading, and I’ve also seen them go above and beyond the minimum requirements. It’s very exciting to see how much they get involved! The students who are reading are also achieving more in other areas too; they’re focusing more in their studies and doing well in school. For kids who are just starting out with reading for fun, I have a few tips. Starting with a series, such as “Nancy Drew” or “The Hardy Boys,” can help the reader get to know the characters and get excited to see what they’ll do next. Taking your child to a bookstore to let them pick something that interests them is also a great way to get them excited about reading. Parents can read with or to their child, which is greatly beneficial and a great way to spend time together. If your child is resistant to reading, try something simple like a comic book or make sure to break up the time, like reading 10 minutes in the morning and 10 at night.

The best part of getting into reading is getting so caught up in the story that it’s difficult to put the book down. I love to read, and it’s actually a personal goal of mine to read two books a week. When I was younger, my mother was going to college in a night school program, and on the weekends she would take me to the school library where she’d study or prepare for her classes on Monday. I would walk around the library, pull books off shelves, find a cozy bean bag to sit on, and read.

This experience with my mother helped me fall in love with reading, and, while it wasn’t a reading program, I hope the program our martial arts school offers will bring the same enthusiasm to my students.

– Amanda Olson



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