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Extracurricular activities can have many benefits for kids in elementary school. They can help your child feel more confident, learn new skills, and make friends. But no activity is “one size fits all.” The best activity for your child depends on several factors, including energy level and social skills. These comments can help you to decide which afterschool activity may be right for your grade school child.

 My child has tons of energy and can barely sit still.  

Your child may need a team sport or play ground time.  Or he or she may benefit from Martial Arts.   Martial Arts helps kids focus their energy in a positive manner and the self control taught will pour over into other areas of their lives.  

My child does well in groups with other kids.  

One of the benefits of martial arts are the extra curricular activities.  Kids that do well in groups have a great time, and shy kids get support from the instructors to take part in these events to make sure all kids participate.  Many Martial Arts schools have parties, events, Kids Nights out in addition to regular scheduled classes.   The concept is creating bonds with other kids and increasing the fun factor.  

My child loves to jump into playground games even with unfamiliar kids.  

Self confidence and social skills are important and parents want this for their kids.   However shy children also excel in martial arts because it's based on self improvement.  Kids are not evaluated by the performance of another child.  It's on reason we say that "No One Sits On The Bench In Martial Arts. 

Our school is offering a Free Beginner Martial Arts Workshop.   The benefits for parents and kids are endless and classes are quite affordable.   This work who is scheduled for Thursday evening, September 1, 2016 at 6:00.   Please register by Wednesday evening.

7 ways to help your child deal with peer pressure

Saying "No" to friends can be hard. Here's how to make it easier. 

 Great Schools Staff 

As kids get older, peer pressure can get in the way of how well they do in school.

Why? By the time they turn seven, children start caring more and more about what other kids think of them — and less about what their parents or other adults think.

Kids who want to get approval from their peers and become more popular will often take part in risky behavior like cheating in class, shoplifting, tagging, drugs, alcohol, and sex — all which can send them on a downward spiral and take them away from focusing on their education.

Here are six other ways to help your child resist peer pressure and stay on the right path:

1. Don’t overreact

When your child talks with you about what friends are doing, you may hear things that upset you. But if you overreact or lecture, your child won’t want to bring these issues up again. Stay as calm as you can, without yelling, blaming, of lecturing. Instead, use these moments to get your child thinking about the consequences of risky behavior: “I wonder if your friend realizes she could be arrested for shoplifting?”

2. Talk about what makes a true friend.

Help your child understand that a friend who is pressuring him to do something dangerous, hurtful, or illegal is not much of a friend.

3. Get to know your child’s friends.

Encourage your child to invite friends home. Having his peers around will help you decide whether they are good or bad influences.

4. Talk about what independence really means.

At this age, your child wants more independence. Point out that if this is a goal of his, he shouldn’t let other kids decide what she should be doing — that’s not independence!

5. Role play peer pressure.

Ask your child what he wishes he could say to his friends if he didn’t have to worry about what they’d say if he said “No.” Then suggest ways he can say it. Keep your advice short and to the point. Remind him it’s easiest to stick with simple things that he can say comfortably. "Sorry that's not me. Not going to do it."

6. Model saying “No”.

When your child hears you setting limits clearly, firmly, and without a lot of explanation, this helps him see that it’s OK to do the same. When you say, “No, that’s not okay with me,” you’re giving your child the same language he can say when someone tries to talk him into doing something he shouldn’t.

7. Get you child in a positive group.

Church and scouts are great. So are Martial Arts.   Martial Arts are "cool", they instill confidence and they teach kids to fight and stand up for themselves.  "Some times saying "no" isn't enough for bullies and peers. You must stand up for your self even if you have to stand up alone.  All kids should take at least 1 year of martial arts for confidence, fun and fitness."  

-Author--Grand Master Greg Silva Black Belt Schools International.   

Please join us Saturday, August 27   at 11:15 am  for a free community event. "Fear Not" - a beginning workshop for kids ages 6 - 11.  Pre-registration is strongly advised!

  How parents can help

As kids navigate friendships and cliques, there's plenty parents can do to offer support. If your child seems upset, or suddenly spends time alone when usually very social, ask about it.

Here are some tips:

Talk about your own experiences. Share your own experiences of school — cliques have been around for a long time!

Help put rejection in perspective. Remind your child of times he or she has been angry with parents, friends, or siblings — and how quickly things can change.

Shed some light on social dynamics. Acknowledge that people are often judged by the way a person looks, acts, or dresses, but that often people act mean and put others down because they lack self-confidence and try to cover it up by maintaining control.

Find stories they can relate to. Many books, TV shows, and movies portray outsiders triumphing in the face of rejection and send strong messages about the importance of being true to your own nature and the value of being a good friend, even in the face of difficult social situations. For school-age kids, books like "Blubber" by Judy Blume illustrate how quickly cliques can change. Older kids and teens might relate to movies such as "Mean Girls," "Angus," "The Breakfast Club," and "Clueless."

Foster out-of-school friendships. Get kids involved in extracurricular activities (if they aren't already) — Martial Arts is a great choice.   Martial Arts schools are Bully Proof Zones, kids treat each other with respect and kids are part of a positive team of role models. 

You are invited to try a Beginner's Martial Arts Training class, for self defense, fitness and fun. Please register here for this week's FREE community training for kids 11 - 15. These classes meet from 5:15-6:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Did you know that 25% of public schools report that bullying among kids happens on a daily or weekly basis? And that 1 in 5 high school students report being bullied in the past year?

The good news is that because bullying has made national headlines, schools and communities (and even celebrities) are taking a strong stand against bullying.  You can do your part at home, too. Here are 5 smart strategies to keep kids from becoming targets — and stop bullying that has already started.  Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD

 Talk about it. Talk about bullying with your kids and have other family members share their experiences. If one of your kids opens up about being bullied, praise him or her for being brave enough to discuss it and offer unconditional support. Consult with the school to learn its policies and find out how staff and teachers can address the situation.

Remove the bait. If it's lunch money or gadgets that the school bully is after, you can help neutralize the situation by encouraging your child to pack a lunch or go to school gadget-free.

Buddy up for safety. Two or more friends standing at their lockers are less likely to be picked on than a child who is all alone. Remind your child to use the buddy system when on the school bus, in the bathroom, or wherever bullies may lurk.

Keep calm and carry onIf a bully strikes, a kid's best defense may be to remain calm, ignore hurtful remarks, tell the bully to stop, and simply walk away. Bullies thrive on hurting others. A child who isn't easily ruffled has a better chance of staying off a bully's radar.

Don't try to fight the battle yourself. Sometimes talking to a bully's parents can be constructive, but it's generally best to do so in a setting where a school official, such as a counselor, can mediate.  

For real confidence and safety an ongoing self defense program is a choice of many parents.  Although it may be easiest for parents to tell kids to ignore the bully, walk away or tell a teacher, that is not aways the safest, easiest thing for a child to do.  Kids don't want to be in fear of school or other kids.  Parents want to make sure their kids are safe.  This is often a have/need choice.  Kids and parents would  rather have their kids know self defense skills and not need to use then than to not have the skills and some day need them.   For a free beginners martial arts worksop please contact.

This article is from The Well Armed Woman and while it is amazing advice targeted to women, everyone could use these skills.  I strongly recommend getting into a program to help you to train yourself to become more aware of your surroundings and utilize those observations to best protect yourself! -- Dana

Self Defense begins with Awareness

author - The Well Armed Woman

There are some basic defensive tips every women should know and make part of their daily lives.


Self defense begins before you even know you need it. Always and in all situations, from going to the grocery store to finding your car in a dark parking lot - scan and be aware of what and who is around you and know where you are. Observe and think "what if?".

What if someone jumped out at you from behind that car? What would you do?

Part of what makes a women vulnerable to attack is the appearance of not paying attention, or appearing uncomfortable. Projecting a confident attentive presence can be a powerful deterrent. We are creatures of habit. It is far too easy to be lax in familiar surroundings and we lose the edge of really checking our surroundings and looking for anything unusual - especially in and around our own neighborhoods, homes, workplaces and cars. Many women are stalked and their habits watched over a period of time to take advantage of when their guard is likely down.


We as women, have powerful instincts - trust them and use them to your advantage. If something or someone does not "feel" safe - you are probably right and should take steps to avoid them. Do not concern yourself with what other's will think that it is a silly, paranoid thought. Listen to your gut and act accordingly.


Have your keys out and ready before starting for the parking lot or your front door. Don't wait until you get in your car to begin the typically long search for your keys in your purse. Don't organize your purchases or review your receipts in the car or do anything that keeps you from locking the doors, starting the engine and leaving immediately. Review your receipts before leaving the store and place your bags in the car quickly. Lock your doors and make sure your car windows are up immediately upon entering the car. Once you enter your home, shut the door and lock it immediately, even if it means making multiple trips to the car to unload your purchases. Take the time to lock the doors each trip. Know where you are going and be ready with keys or whatever you may need before you get there.


Being in the mindset that you will fight to protect yourself and knowing how you will do that ahead of time not only gives you greater confidence but increases your chance of successfully defending yourself. Escape is always the best option. Being aware and thinking defensively will help you to see "the possibilities" of flight or fight before anything happens. I would suggest that if you choose to carry a firearm, that you take an armed personal defense course and if you do not carry a firearm, a basic self defense course is highly recommended. These self-defense programs should include simulated assaults with a fully padded instructor in realistic rape and attack scenarios, to allow you to practice what you've learned.


Just as we teach our children to stay away from strangers, we need to practice what we teach. Keep your distance when walking past strangers and be observant and mentally prepared. If a car pulls up and needs assistance, keep a very safe distance if you choose to offer help - or simply keep moving. With the internet becoming one of the most common ways we meet new people, extreme caution should be used when giving out any personal information or addresses. Everyone and anyone can look and seem "safe" online. Trust no one.


Home invasion crimes are on the rise. The best way to prevent a home invasion is to always keep your doors and windows locked with effective locks and to simply never, ever open your door unless you either are certain you know who's on the other side or you can verify that they have a legitimate reason for being there. Many criminals will dress up as a repair man or even a police officer. You can call the company or the police station to verify before opening your door. In the event that an intruder breaks in while you're home, you should have a safe room in your house to which you can retreat. Such a room should be equipped with a strong door, deadbolt lock, phone (preferably cell phone), and a can of pepper spray, fire extinguisher or safely stored firearm.