When it comes to kids’ activities, summer camps or anything else that is part of the life of your child, a good coach or teacher can quickly make or break an experience. From that first soccer coach to a high school music instructor, it’s essential you find someone who truly connects with your son or daughter in a way that will inspire, encourage and enlighten them.
Here’s some of qualities of a good coach for kids to look for:
1. A Kid at Heart
Kids can be noisy, annoying and even gross.
That’s why it’s important for anyone working with children to have a little piece of childhood still within them. They may be a theme park fanatic or love a good round of laser tag – whatever it is, they need to be enough of a child at heart to relate to children on a level they will appreciate.
2. Enduring Patience
While a childlike spirit is undoubtedly important, your child won’t get anywhere unless the adult leading them is patient beyond belief.
Even the most easy going child can grow frustrated with a sport or other activity, and the primary adult in charge needs to be right there with the long-suffering outlook that is required to repeat instructions for a third time, or keep a crying child going when they are ready to quit.
Patience is a virtue, and one of the best qualities of a good coach for kids.
Your child’s teacher or coach may have won many awards or medals personally, but how long have they worked as an instructor?
More importantly, how long have they worked with children?
A swimmer that qualified for the Olympics does not automatically equal an outstanding coach for a 7-year-old afraid of putting her head under water. Look for someone who has experience not only with the activity focus, but also in leading little ones in it.
Is your coach confident in what to do in the case of an emergency or injury?
What paperwork or references do they have to back this up? Experience via formal education and training still counts for a lot.
Almost every teacher and coach involved in summer camps or kids’ afterschool activities is encouraging. But in what way?
Some may consider the examples seen on popular shows like Dance Moms or Toddlers in Tiaras as “encouraging,” while others may consider a good encourager to be someone who never yells. In reality, a healthy balance between the two will serve your child best – someone who is firm with the rules, but gentle with the reprimands.
6. Billing Practices
How do they invoice for lessons or a camp session? Do they have positive reviews from others in the community?
Check to make sure your selected instructor uses best honesty practices when it comes to all things money-related. If they are a non-profit, are their spending reports available for review? If they are charging you directly for a professional service, how do they measure up compared to others in the region?
7. Flexible Perspective
Is the coach able to evaluate a situation and adequately see various points of view?
Since little ones all learn in different ways, you don’t want an individual who is pigeon-holed into one mode of operation. If your child needs to learn visually, and an instructor isn’t able to provide resources for that, it may not be a good fit.
Look for someone with flexible viewpoints and multiple strategies to instruct and drive home a point of understanding in your child.
8. Pride in Accomplishments
Your child’s, that is – not their own.
Do they conduct regular recognition nights or issue ribbons, certificates or something else of the like to students who reach certain milestones?
Even the most elite extra-curricular shouldn’t be completely void of accolades. See what they do to commemorate your child’s improved skill set as the months go on, and talk to your child about how they personally would feel they reached a goal worth being proud of.
Just as a quality school teacher is far from done working when the bell rings, after school activity leaders need to make themselves available for extra practice sessions, parent meetings and fundraising events to make their business worth something.
If they are willing to put in the extra time, or assign someone of equal merit, to work with your child individually, then you’ve likely found a great fit.
10. Community Involvement
Who knows them in your city? What have they been involved in both within your activity and beyond?
A well-rounded individual who’s active in their community will always make the best teacher or coach when it comes to children. Research what non-profits they’ve donated to, what they have done to benefit those around them. If they seem to lack charity and a decent relational life, then they may not be the best at working with kids.
The most important thing to look for in a teacher for your child is a good feeling. While it may sound cliché, your parental intuition will oftentimes kick in to reassure you that you’ve found a good match.
Do your homework, go the extra distance to compare and contrast what’s available, and you are sure to find a great coach for your kids.