our little karate kid


Since the start of Kindergarten, I've had lots of proud moments, and this past Tuesday was one of them when Jake earned his Best Attitude badge in karate.

Because I want to remember how far he's come...

Our school year last year was a difficult one.  For every one thing he did right academically, he did two things wrong behaviorally in his teachers' eyes (i.e. playing in the bathroom, talking in a "baby voice" during Spanish class).  On his mid-year evaluation, she recommended that he repeat K4 because he lacked the maturity she thought he needed to be successful in Kindergarten, and by the end of the school year, he had lost his confidence in giving answers (It wan't uncommon for him not to answer in fear of being wrong.), he wasn't finishing his assignments, and he even lied about needing to use the bathroom so he could go out to play with another class on the playground instead.  We took his teacher's recommendations seriously (After all, she is trained in her profession while neither Jim nor I are.  And she was with him in a classroom setting all day while we were not.), so we explored other school options, talked to his pediatrician, and talked to his school's administrators.  Upon the recommendation of his principal, he sat down with a second grade teacher for nearly an hour while she quizzed him on letters, shapes, colors, and his writing skills.  Her thoughts afterwards were that she didn't see any reason why he should repeat his current grade, and she even told us to look forward to a great year in Kindergarten.  So we did.

This Summer we wanted to rebuild his confidence and prepare him to move on to a new level of learning, so we set some goals and got started on meeting them the day after the school year ended.  We enrolled him in swimming lessons and took him to a five-week early reading program on Saturdays to keep him used to being in a classroom and stretch his comfort level of being with the some of the same classmates he's had since he was two.  He went from doing everything he could to avoid doing his worksheets in his Summer Bridge book (He would ask me for a snack or something to drink just to prolong getting it done, and he would ask to quit before he ever got started.) to doing them without being asked, to spelling words from memory, to reading short books.  We had a terrific Summer, and I couldn't wait for him to start karate lessons in August (I inquired about them at the start of the Summer.  But when I found out that they were offered at his school - one of the local studios sends an instructor to his school one day per week - I decided to wait until then.). I couldn't wait for him to learn to practice self-control and self-discipline, to focus, to show respect, and to learn to be responsible for his own success.

He's been taking lessons now for almost eight weeks, and the changes he's made have been amazing.  He takes "No" for an answer with much more ease, says yes ma'am, no ma'am, yes sir, and no sir every. time. he's asked a question by an adult - not just at home and school but anywhere we go - and his confidence is off the chain.  His answers are firm and quick, and if he's wrong, he's okay with that.

I mentioned this past week he earned his "Best Attitude" badge.  To do this, he was evaluated for two weeks straight at school and at home on how much respect he showed, how he responded to discipline, if his attitude was a positive one, and if he was obedient to those in authority over him.  He wasn't to complain when asked to do tasks, to use his manners at all times, and to be an encouragement and an example to his sibling and classmates.  I won't go on and on more than I already have.  I'll just say he totally earned it.  He's also earned one stripe towards another belt, and if he earns just one more by then his rank test will be on November 13th.

When I went to watch his lesson on Tuesday, I got a little video of him practicing breaking a practice board.  To earn his orange belt, he'll actually have to break a wooden one.  I love what his instructor, Sensei Micheal, said to his class before they all took turns practicing..."The real test is not whether or not you break the board.  It's about not giving up no matter how many kicks it takes.  Because the secret to breaking a board is believing in yourself."

I love even more what Jake said when he ran over to me after class was over.  Instead of expressing his pride for earning his badge (And yes, he was proud.) he said, "Mom!  Britt earned his first stipe!  Aren't you so happy for him?!"

Buddy, I'm so incredibly proud of you - of who you're becoming - inside and out.  Hiyaaah!


  1. This is so great. Everything about it. Way to go, Jake!

  2. Way to go Jake! What a great young man you are growing up to be!

  3. so happy to hear he's making grat progress! way to go jake!

  4. THANK YOU, Leanne, Kristy, and Kimberley!!!

  5. I LOVE this post! Way to go Jake! I love his heart!

  6. Oh so sweet to hear this:) My boys took kempo for a while and it really dose make a difference.