Imagine being expected to do something that you are unable to do.
Picture yourself in a room full of other people, all of whom are having an easier time than you are, and some of whom excel.
Feel the frustration as you try your hardest, yet still can't get your body to do what you want it to do.
Your cheeks redden as you are embarrassed by your inability in front of all those other people.
You'd probably rather be pretty much anywhere else at this moment.
Now imagine that you are a small child.
You will notice that our classes list an age requirement.
In general, I dislike the concept of an "age requirement," so I'd like to give you an explanation of why we have them.
The limits are not arbitrary.
Our goal is for our students to enjoy our classes, and in order for that to happen, they must be able to meaningfully participate.
Our classes require a certain developmental level in order for students to participate safely, and with a reasonable likelihood of being able to perform the necessary skills.
Safety is, of course, our primary concern.
Our classes require a high level of mental focus, and if a student is unable to maintain that focus, their attention wanders, at which point, they become a safety hazard to everyone in the room, including themselves.
This is unacceptable.
Our classes also require a high level of physical effort, and a high degree of precision.
A student must be able to put in the effort required to attain that precision, AND the skills must be something they are developmentally ABLE to accomplish. If they are unable, again, their attention wanders.
We chose our lower age limit after observing, for several years, what happened if we allowed children younger than eight to take the class.
What we saw was that they were either unhappy, being unable to attain any level of skill, or they were not even attempting to gain skill, not understanding the precision required because it was outside their capabilities and experience.
They often required a higher level of attention from the instructor and assistants, taking that attention away from the entire rest of the class.
These students did not continue to fence after the intro class.
Who would, when their experience was one of not being able to do well, through no fault of their own?
With the requirement of the age of eight, we mean the developmental level of the average eight year old, so if your child, for whatever reason, does not have those abilities, even if they are eight years old (or older), we advise you to wait until they are older before attempting this class.
Likewise, if your child, for whatever reason, cannot stay focused, or has extreme difficulty with balance or coordination, they might be better served to wait a year or so.
It is far more likely that a student will enjoy the class and choose to continue fencing as a lifelong endeavor, if it is something they are capable of, and enjoy, doing.
It is unfair to them, and to their classmates, to put them into a situation that is beyond their means.
For our classes where we have a higher age requirement, much the same holds true, that it is for developmental reasons.
But in those cases, there are other things that also come into play.
First, they may be working with a partner, whose safety they will be responsible for.
Second, some weapons are significantly heavier, and a small person will not be able to hold them up for the required practice time.
This may be so, regardless of age, so any prospective student who is smaller (or weaker) than average would do well to contact us and arrange to meet and try holding the sword, to see if it is something they are able to do.
We also include, in our classes, a variety of real world discussion topics, some of which many parents would not find appropriate for a very young child (read more about this here).
We are happy to answer any further questions about this that you may have, or to discuss specifics of developmental requirements. Contact us.
IFV Inc is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit educational corporation.
Located in Ithaca, NY, the heart of the beautiful Finger Lakes region.