When parents/guardians bring their children to their first karate class, they sit on the sidelines and watch the session. Our dojo is open so the parents can see and hear what is happening in class. The parents talk to the instructors and ask questions about the class, style, dojo and policies. One question often asked:
Do I have to stay during class?
When I taught at the dance studio, which was located in a mall, most of the parents dropped off their kids and went shopping. The teaching space was behind closed doors with a glass observation window. It was the worst space I ever taught karate. The owner of the studio liked to put me in the "gym" room complete with purple walls and a trampoline. I taught very young kids (3-6) a pre-karate program. We worked on balance and co-ordination. I liked to keep my door open so the parents could hear what I was teaching their children. The owner wanted the door closed at all times. So...I invited the parents in the room when I felt they should hear what I was teaching.
I took my daughter (who was 5 at the time) for dance lessons at the same studio. I would stay and watch the classes. A few of the karate parents of the youngest karate group would stay all the time. (Thank you!) One mom dropped her 3 year old son off and left each class. He always needed to go to the bathroom during class. The studio policy was that if the parent was not in the waiting room...the entire class had to escort the child and wait outside the bathroom. These classes were only a half hour long and we spent 10 minutes each session in the lobby outside the bathroom....waiting.
In the 16 years since our dojo has opened, we had a wide range of parents.
Sit and wait. (largest group of parents in our dojo)
Sit and wait but eventually join class. :)
Sit with friend - talk and wait.
Sit and wait - work on computer.
Sit and wait for a portion of class - take a short walk outside.
Drop off and go fishing at the lake.
So...what is my answer to the question...Do we have to stay?
It is really up to the parent/guardian and the child. If I felt strongly that a parent should stay, for whatever reason, I would tell the parent individually.
As an instructor my preference is for the parents of young children (5-8) to stay. I think it is important for the parents to hear what their children are learning. They learn appropriate age level self-defense. I think it is also important the parents know we tell the children that karate practice is to be done in the dojo with an instructor for safety reasons. There is no practicing on parents, friends, brothers/sisters or pets.
One other consideration for our dojo is the proximity of the local Fire Company. The Fire Company social hall is only 100 yards down the street. A few parents have asked if it was ok if they hang out at the Fire Company when their children are in class. They usually add this tidbit of information after I tell them staying is up to the parent. I know they serve food at the social hall but when most people are hanging out...they hang out at the bar.
What do you think...should parents stay or should they go?