Tai Chi helps children concentrate, says south-west London instructor


Derek Pearce says Tai Chi promotes positive thinking and relaxation, in and out of a school environment.


By Steven Freeman, Edward Greenland, Khaleda Rahman & Sarah Robinson

Tai Chi helps children concentrate in schools, according to a south-west London-based instructor.

Derek Pearce, who has taught Tai Chi for 22 years, says it promotes positive thinking and relaxation, in and out of the school environment.

He now teaches classes in schools designed to develop concentration, discipline and improve attention levels.

Mr Pearce said: “My 10-year-old daughter has been doing Tai Chi for a while now and she really thinks it helps her concentrate.

“Everyone has this image that Tai Chi involves grey-haired old people, but it can be for all ages.”

He said forward-thinking headteachers have added Tai Chi to their syllabus and some schools run early morning sessions.

Tai Chi has already made an impact in Yorkshire schools, where UK Tai Chi has been running ‘Chi for Children’ since 2002.

The scheme, aimed at children aged 5-10, has shown how Tai Chi can have a positive impact on exam results.

Yorkshire schools first got involved in Tai Chi prior to students’ SATS exams.

Founder Betty Sutherland has since trained teachers in London to teach children Tai Chi.

She said: “Exam results were better than previously. The only thing they had done differently was to add Tai Chi.”

Questionnaire answers showed children felt calmer than expected before exams.

Ms Sutherland said: “Tai Chi is about stillness, and is not adrenaline-based. Some schools were doing a ‘wake and shake’ session, which is adrenaline-based.

“This makes getting them to concentrate harder. Tai Chi helps children to be calm.”

Wimbledon’s Pelham Primary School Deputy Head Justine Green said: “From what I know about Tai Chi, it’s a very interesting idea and it’s something we would definitely consider.”

Ronnie Robinson, of the Tai Chi Union for Great Britain, said there are not enough children involved in Tai Chi.

He added it is difficult to find CRB-approved instructors with comprehensive insurance to work with children.

Mr Robinson said: “There are classes out there, but it’s a very niche market. There are benefits for children participating in Tai Chi, and it is a real shame there are not enough classes.”

The London-based Mei Quan Academy of Taiji offer tailor-made classes for primary schools, with fully insured, experienced and qualified teachers.

Schools interested in offering Tai Chi for children should email [email protected] or call 07982 716 981. 

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