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Tai Chi benefits education

Tai Chi and How it Can Benefit Education & Specialist Tai Chi

In 2002, when I was asked to go into Primary Schools and teach Tai Chi,

I wasn't confident in how it could be of a benefit to school children.

 After several months delivering training, I became aware that children were very receptive to the calming influence that we get from practicing Tai Chi.

I was not the only person to notice this and was then asked by School Sports Specialists, Child Therapists and Head teachers to take on the challenge of developing a programme of Tai Chi for schools here in Yorkshire.

Obviously this had to work on many levels, so the first people I decided to talk to were the teachers.  I was told that children were lively, had little concept of calmness, listening and being able to focus their attention for any prolonged period.  I had noticed also that fitness was an issue and most complained about standing, or undertaking a physical task for a period longer than 10 minutes.  This was surprising to me as Tai Chi per say is not a high impact sport - but more later.

I spoke to Head teachers, who have to perform to Ofsted rules.  Ofsted states that 'it is not enough for the child to enjoy the activity, it must be of a benefit to their education'.  They must also report on the impact that any funding has on pupils’ PE and sport participation and attainment.

So therefore what I get from Tai Chi (enjoyment) was not enough.  

Schools also wanted sustainability, it doesn't work for a school to parachute an activity/trainer into the school.  Once that specialist has gone they had no way of continuing the activity, this is also costly.

I then decided to ask the Children.  

I  embarked on a mission to see:  

a} Do children like doing Tai Chi?  

b} Do children feel a benefit from doing Tai Chi?

c} Did it help them prepare for exams?.  

I asked similar of the teachers.  This survey was undertaken during the run up to SATs testing in schools.  I selected geographic areas with different demographics.  One, a state primary school in Harrogate (a middle class region).  The Second was on the outskirts of Bradford a mainly Asian inner-city state primary and the Third a state school in an underprivileged area of  Selby.

From my programme ™'Chi for Children' I selected several techniques that enable to children improve mental application by having a calm and tranquil mind.  I delivered this programme to the children and their teachers, leaving behind a means of continued learning and requested that they practiced the programme every day on the run up to SAT testing.

In order to research the value of the programme, I distributing questionnaires to the research groups both Before and again After the SAT exams. On the whole the outcomes showed calmer children with less exam nerves.  One school even reported an improvement in results, with the only change to the preparation for exams being Tai Chi.

This gave me the basic evidence to show that…

Tai Chi CAN Benefit Education

I continue to deliver this programme to numerous schools across the UK. I have subsequently gone on to publish a training resource based on Tai Chi and Qigong which is available on Amazon (See more on ™‘Chi for Children’ Teaching Resource)

I have a true belief that children in schools can benefit from Tai Chi and the Education system could benefit from © 'Calmer Classrooms' by introducing Tai Chi/Qigong on a regular basis.  The physical health benefits are also evident, with undertaking a weight baring exercise programme that can be physically demanding.  Even Martial training and International competition is an option later in life.  

Children who do not normally participate in school sports benefit from the DIFY (Do It For Yourself) that Tai Chi offers.   At primary school level it's non competitive.  We should be teaching our children how to 'manage their mind' and not running on adrenalin from constant external stimulus.  They should be seen as individuals with an important role to play, but as individuals recognise that discipline and being aware of the affect of their behaviour on others is also their responsibility.  Last but by no means least recognise that it feels good to have a 'Still Point' at some point!

Specialist Tai Chi

Autism Eye

I was contacted by Fiona from Autism Eye - a magazine for parents and professionals working with children within the autistic spectrum, they wanted to write an article about Martial Arts for children.  Because Carol (Daniels) works on a day to day basis with children with special needs, I asked her to write a piece based on her experience this is it:

 'Tai Chi gives Children time to focus on themselves'

Tai Chi instructor Betty Sutherland has devised 'Chi for Children'.  It is a simplified version of Tai Chi that she takes into school, showing staff how to use it with children.

(HLTA) Higher Level Teaching Assistant - Carol Daniels, who works at a primary school in Leeds, took Sutherland's course three years ago and regularly uses the moves during the school day.  She has used Tai Chi to calm lively classes, as well as working one-to one with kids with emotional issues such as anxiety or self-esteem problems.  She has also found that the discipline can help children with ASD who are prone to meltdowns.

'It's fantastic' she says. "It give children the time to focus on themselves as wonderful, unique individuals.  I think it can bring about lasting changes, but this works best when either the parents or children themselves learn the techniques and carry it forward".  Daniels practices Tai Chi herself "It give me energy, focus, clarity and a feeling of lightness" she says. "It helps me to face the challenges of my job".

see: www.autismeye.com for more information.

Chi for Children one-to-one classes by Carol Daniels

By:  Carol Daniels Teacher Thorner Primary School and ™'Chi or Children' Teacher

“During Summer 2014 I was approached by a parent regarding Tai Chi for their child to help improve focus.  I started 1:1 Chi for Children in the September.

Within a short period, the child’s parents had noticed an improvement in their child’s posture and confidence. As I work in the same school the pupil attends I personally have noticed an increase in self-esteem; holistic well-being, along with overall enhanced co-ordination and spatial awareness.

The lessons are planned to be enjoyable (fun) as well as educational, whilst not compromising on the mastery of Tai Chi.”

Carol now runs one-to-one sessions to help build physical fitness and confidence.  These are held  in the Victory Hall, Thorner (http://www.thornervictoryhall.co.uk).


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Fairburn Primary School www.fairburn.n-yorks.sch.uk

I was first invited into Fairburn in 2010 under the Selby Sports Partnership initiative.  It was with glee that I read an e-mail from Emma Cornhill the Head teacher this year asking if I could go into the school to teach all of the students during curriculum time. I delivered sessions back to back from Early Years up through KS 2 & 3. They all embraced the philosophy of Tai Chi, calmness, mindfulness and physical fitness with gusto.   Fairburn is one of the most nurturing school that I have had the pleasure of teaching in and I wish them the very best and hope they go from strength to strength.