This is in response to a question asked by Nowheymama, but since it might interest someone else AND I can get a post out of it, here it is.
Nowheymama asked: Tell me more about Tae Kwan Do, please. Do the girls like it?
Tae Kwon Do is a Korean martial art (it may be THE Korean martial art, but I don't know). Apparently, it is also written as one word, not three like I have been doing forever. It means "the way of the hand and the fist." Wait, that's redundant... FOOT and fist.
Anyway, we originally started the girls in Taekwondo (hmmm, I like three words better, but from here on out it's TKD) when Jo was 5, because she lacked self-confidence and we thought it might help her in that area. Beth started because Jo did and she was the youngest (having just turned 3) ever admitted to our TKD school at the time. They allowed her in because she demonstrated the ability to pay attention and follow instructions. The age limit at the time was four, so Beth paved the way for the three-year-olds that are now admitted.
The sport did seem to help Jo with her self-confidence, though she is by nature fairly quiet and timid, so it is sometimes difficult to discern what is her non-assertive nature and what is a lack of self-confidence. Jo's ability to focus is a huge asset for her in the sport. About 2 1/2 years into it, Jo went through a period when she wanted to quit. I spoke with her instructor, and he talked to her and got her excited about it again. I don't know what he said, but it worked.
Beth turned out to be quite the athlete in all the sports she's tried, and TKD is no exception. She loves it and has never really had a time when she didn't. Both girls are currently enjoying it and are about 3 months away from earning their black belts.
If you are thinking of starting your kids in TKD, make sure you talk to parents whose kids go to various TKD schools to find out which school is right for your kids. There are national chains and mom-and-pop shops. The school we attend is one of the latter, and I think that, particularly for Jo, was the best choice for us. Our school also emphasizes getting out there and giving it all you've got rather than perfection of execution, though the kids are expected to learn all the moves (and some of the forms are long and complicated). No matter what kind of school you decide to go with, it is quite a commitment. We've been going for three years now, which is how long it takes to get to a black belt. It is also not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. On the plus side, at least at the school we go to, the instructors talk to the kids quite a bit about making good decisions, doing their best in all aspects of their lives (school, home, etc.), and so on, so it's not just the sport that they're learning. Overall, it's been a good experience for my kids, and while I'm not sure if Jo will decide to continue on to higher degree black belts after receiving her first degree black belt, I'm fairly certain that Beth will continue.