Tai Chi Moves For Kids Of All Ages, From 4-94
By Cari Shurman, creator of Tai Chi for Kids
Imagine a classroom where students have learned to focus on the work but are relaxed, have developed the self-confidence they need to proceed, have a reasonable level of fitness, muscle tone and balance, are free of excessive fears and anxiety. It can be achieved. TAI CHI MOVES can help. Teachers report that when they use the simplified TAI CHI MOVES in their class that students relax, cooperation improves, the whole day flows better. Test scores go up!
I have taught for over 30 years in 6 different countries. Twenty years ago in China, I saw something very wonderful – 350 high school students did a half hour of Tai Chi together every day to start the school day.
Seeing the focus, calmness, concentration and ability to work together, I decided this was something I wanted to learn and teach to children everywhere. So I began my study. I visualized children in big cities or suburban areas learning Tai Chi. I thought it would be good for pre school kids, stressed out high school kids preparing for college and everyone in between. It didn’t matter whether a child had ADD, ADHD, or any other learning challenges. This deserved a try.
I simplified the TAI CHI MOVES so it was easy to learn. Working with autistic children I saw remarkable changes in behavior, ability to relate to others and self-confidence. After a few months 12 year old Carol stood on one foot to tie her shoe. She looked at her mother and said, ”It’s because I do Tai Chi.” She loved focusing on the root.
Another autistic teen, Carl, went to a ropes course with his mom on a Caribbean Island. He had never done it before. He climbed up the tree, walked across the rope ladder and down the other side. His mother cried with happiness when she called to tell me. “It’s the Tai Chi. I could see it was making a difference!” Tai Chi works on the inside of the body to energize the organs and bring calmness and focus. It made sense. Tai Chi was helping these students understand and control their bodies.
A class of 12 year olds in a New York City school on a Friday afternoon didn’t want to stop when it was time to go home. It felt so good. Why do we have to stop?
As we begin to understand our emotions and to anticipate a feeling that is building in us, it becomes easier to find self-control. Pretending to be an animal moving peacefully in nature takes us away from the noisy, hectic pace of daily life to a peaceful place in nature.
I was so excited by these results that I began using Tai Chi with all my students – the stressed out over achiever, the most hyper active kids who couldn’t concentrate at all, even the ones who had no self-confidence who had given up on themselves. With the video it is easy to learn the moves. The audio CD for regular practice helps you close your eyes and focus inside. When we take our eyes off the TV screen we can feel the energy inside more easily.
A teacher in Brooklyn used it with her challenging special ed class. One hyperactive boy who threw chairs around the classroom when he was out of control learned to anticipate his tantrum and call out “I need to do Tai Chi!” The whole class would stop to do 10 minutes of Tai Chi together and then go on with their work.
In our society, where we find that physical education classes and even recess are often cut or reduced, I like to think of children doing TAI CHI MOVES for a few minutes everyday in class and at home.
Sometimes it is not safe to let our kids go outside to play. But they can do Tai Chi. Tai Chi can be a beautiful family activity before bed. We can all be sleeping lions and fall asleep more easily.
Tapping on our bodies is a great morning activity for just 5 minutes. The whole family can wake up their energy and get ready for the day. Try it. It is better than coffee! And it is fun to do together!
The best time to start is in elementary school – when children are developing study skills and habits. Tai Chi reminds them to breathe, stand straight, relax, visualize, focus, and release stress. It enhances creativity, too. Of course it is also great in middle school, high school and for adults. Once learned, it is the perfect exercise. It can be done in a few minutes, here and there, throughout the day.
Try Tai Chi before a test. As you breathe and visualize, your shoulders and stomach relax. That tight feeling in the abdomen goes away. The blood begins to circulate more freely. We become rooted and centered. The mind focuses on the task ahead.
In a classroom where students practice Tai Chi regularly there is an atmosphere of calm focus and cooperation. Teachers tell me that on the days they do Tai Chi everything goes better. Students develop the self-confidence they need to find success. They are flexible and balanced, free of excessive fears and anxiety. Kids with special needs such as ADD, ADHD, autism, poor concentration, low energy and other disabilities can improve their focus and self-control, their ability to relate to others, to stay on target with their work and believe in themselves.
Isn’t it wonderful that we have a tool to help us deal with the ever-increasing level of stress in our lives? Isn’t it even better that now we can share it with our children? My dream is that parents and teachers everywhere will discover Tai Chi and learn to use it with their children so everyone can find the inner peace that can change our lives.
About the Author
Cari Shurman is the creator of Tai Chi Moves for Kids©, Tai Chi Moves© and the new DVDs Tai Chi Moves for Kids of all Ages, from 4-94© and, in Spanish, Tai Chi Moves Para Niños y Jóvenes de 4 – 94©. These programs help children of all ages improve focus, fitness and self-esteem through mindful exercise and breathing. Offering workshops to parents, teachers, social workers and therapists in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and other schools for 10 years, she has helped thousands of kids learn these wonderful tools of calmness, concentration and cooperation. To learn more about studies done on Tai chi with children, how to arrange a workshop in your area or via SKYP, or to purchase a CD or DVD please check out the web site: www.taichiforkids.com.