Head Coach Andrew found this great article that brings to light some very interesting problems with the way our brains develop in youth.
In the last several years, we at RocPK have noticed an interesting trend: we rarely need to instruct young kids on how to move. Adults, however, are another story. Bring your child the first day and the first thing they will do is try to climb on the bars, jump on the boxes, and balance on the rails. Typically, an adult will wait until you tell them concretely what it is they should do. In essence, they bypass exploration in favor of direct instruction.
You may not find much wrong with this approach and there definitely are benefits. But parkour is a creative discipline and simply doing only what your instructor tells you to do does nothing to help your creativity. In kids, direct instruction before exploration yields shocking results and makes them less likely to try new things out on their own without being directly told what to do.
At Rochester Parkour, movement exploration is an important factor that is designed into each class. Exploration is typically encouraged at the start of a class, after a central idea has been expressed. The students will then explore the idea or a particular challenge with direct instruction being applied afterwards as a guide or to channel their creativity into something more constructive.
On multiple occasions, we’ve caught a number of our younger students discovering movements that we’ve never taught them! Below is a lucky shot I got of AJ discovering how to backwards lache:
Direct instruction is also an important part of the education equation, but not at the expense of creative play and exploration. Try new things and challenge yourself! Come to the gym and play with us!