Another school year is upon us which means students, parents and teachers transitioning away from summer and facing fresh challenges.For our kids it can mean new schools and friends, and new lessons in the classroom. But for parents, it can be more complicated. How do we help our kids address larger concerns like self-confidence, learning how to make friends and setting and reaching goals? How do we deal with troubling social issues like peer pressure and bullying?With so many two-career families and schools being asked to do more with less, many of us are looking for community resources to bridge the gaps between family, community and schools.In the Sacramento Valley we are fortunate to have so many resources that can not only keep kids safe and busy after the school day ends, but also help them learn skills and lessons that aren’t taught in classrooms. What follows is a quick guide to a few options for after-school activities.The city of Sacramento offers programs for kids from kindergarten into middle school.START offers:*physical activities,*academic challenges* social enrichment*recreational opportunities* https://www.cityofsacramento.org/ParksandRec/Youth-Division/Youth-After-School-Programs/STARTThe Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento offer kids from age 6-18 programs geared toward to:*academics*sports*character and leadership development*https://bgcsac.org/what-we-do/programs/overview.htmlThe Sacramento area YMCA has offerings that include:aquatic programssports programsacademic oriented classesyouth government program.And then there is Kovar's Satori Academy Martial Arts and Fitness.At Kovar’s we share the goals of these organizations and programs in wanting to equip our kids with the tools to navigate a complicated world. But we strive for more. We want to help them become their best self; a person ready to make their community a better place.Our programs help our students develop confidence, discipline, and the ability to identify goals in an environment that promotes community and a sense of family.*People Skills:Students at our nine centers become better listeners as they learn martial arts from our skilled staff. The process helps them learn to be more grounded, focusing not only on the moment they are in but the task at hand. Contact ceases to be something to be afraid of. Posture and balance improve. Hand-eye coordination and motor skills become sharper. Verbal skills improve as does eye contact.*Bullying:It has become a focus in schools and on social media but at Kovar’s we teach our students to identify circumstances where bullying may occur before it happens, giving them the tools to not only avoid those situations, but to diffuse them as well.*Cross Training:While students at Kovar’s learn martial arts that can include jiu jitsu, mixed martial arts and krav maga, the skills they acquire can often pay dividends in a variety of athletic pursuits. For example, our students have found that time spent at Kovar’s dojo have translated to excelling at baseball. Students develop higher levels of concentration and hand eye coordination, skills that transfer well to the diamond. Balance and flexibility are improved as well.*Community:Through the process of training at our dojo, our students gain a sense of team, building confidence that helps them identify better friendship candidates in school and the community. The step-by-step nature of martial arts helps kids gain comfort in setting and attaining goals, something that moves easily into classrooms as well as family and social settings.*Our Programs:We serve kids across a trio of platforms. For our youngest students we offer our Lil’ Samurai program. Students four to six years old are placed in small groups so that they can receive one-on-one instruction and skills are taught at a pace that ensures students learn each technique before moving on. Development of hand-eye coordination and motor skills are emphasized.The junior’s program at Kovar’s is designed so that students develop the ability to resolve conflict in a nonviolent manner in their lives, be it in the classroom, on the field, or in social settings. An emphasis is placed by our staff on identifying lures and threats in everyday life and avoiding them using role playing techniques. At the same time, students are prepared both physically and mentally to neutralize threats.The teen program focuses on helping students manage stress and develop sound judgement and life skills, placing an increased value on higher expectations at the dojo.After 40 years in the business of instructing the martial arts and developing kids ready for the world, Kovar’s has helped more than 32,000 students develop into people grounded in perseverance, integrity and courage.