At what age is it appropriate to provide any real meaningful "instruction" in physical activity?

My specific issue:

Falling and Rolling / Somersaults

My biggest concern is a 2-year-old who ends up doing as many flailing-arm headstands as he does complete somersaults, maybe more, and want to know both when and how (if both apply) to encourage some vestige of technique or safety (independent safety).

My second concern, is related to actively teaching appropriate falling/rolling techniques to a 6-year-old. I know how to fall and roll, though I am rusty, and have some experience demonstrating and teaching it (though to adults). I find this situation quite challenging, and need some suggestions on how (and in the case of the 2-year-old, whether) to proceed with either or both formal, structured lessons, and informal, game-like activities for both ages.

  • At that 2 years old, As long as he's having fun and is active, and, the supervisors are handling the group safely, he's fine. If you're concerned that you're paying $$$ for him to stand in line for 45 minutes and flop around for 5 minutes, that's another issue. A six year old who is interested is ready do more formal instruction
    – pojo-guy
    Jan 13, 2018 at 16:42

3 Answers 3


I have been teaching martial arts for a couple of decades now. I will not generally teach children under 6 years of age, and often find it better to wait until 8 years of age. However, I have had one four year old student who did well. We typically follow the rank and file Japanese model of class, although we occasionally follow a looser Okinawan format.

In short, it depends on hte child.


Kids develop at different rates.

Moderate physical activity is acceptable for all ages and likely healthy.

Intense excercices like weight training should take place in adolescent/teenage years.

Consult your doctor for further guidance bases on your child's health conditions.

  • 1
    Thank you for answering. However, this answer is very general and does not address my specific concern or really even the context of the question without more detail. Point one is why I am identifying their ages specifically, they get plenty of regular exercise, and I didn't mention weight training or conditioning. My question is specific to how receptive they are at these ages specifically to formal instruction (specifically rolling and falling), and some suggestions on doing so. This is not a health or medical question.
    – zugzwang
    Jan 13, 2018 at 18:21

I’m a preschool teacher and work with 2-3 year olds predominantly at the moment. Here is my opinion to compliment other answers given here. I am not an expert by any means. I cannot give advice on the 6 year old much.

I would not worry to much about too much structure for a 2 year old, but proper technique (especially for rolling) can and should be encouraged. At that age the important things in terms of their physical and active learning is confidence in using their body, learning about what they can do, interest in being active, having fun with groups of other children and learning about being safe. As you said, I think it is definitely possible to encourage good technique and safety, especially with things like rolling but keep it gentle as you want the child’s Confidence and interest in this to keep growing. Definitely model, encourage and explain good technique for whatever movement you are focusing on ( in a quick way your 2 year old can understand ) and of course intervene if you feel the child is ever going to get hurt but I would not push to hard or be too structured for that age as often 2 year olds are also learning about following instructions in general also.

Perhaps talk about safety first before you begin. Set up a mat for rolling and tell the child to begin each roll at one end of the mat and go in the same direction each time and then position yourself so you are next to the child when they begin their roll so you can encourage good technique for each roll and intervene if you feel you need to. Having older children come and join in too can help as they are good role models as well for little ones. Most importantly keep it fun.

With a 6 year old I would imagine a more structured ‘lesson’ is possible and especially if the child is already interested in this area.

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