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Teaching Tai Chi to Middle School Students for Stress Reduction
 
May 2008 - Tai Chi is the focus of a growing body of literature both qualitative and empirical. Yet there is a paucity of literature on teaching Tai Chi to either adolescents or children ages 10-13 presumably because of the level of attention and concentration Tai Chi requires. In the pediatric setting, Tai Chi appears best combined with other practice activities like mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) that complement the practice of Tai Chi, sustain interest and synergistically enhance the benefits Tai Chi has been shown to produce in older populations. The literature on the effects of MBSR practices with children and teens are also limited. However, the corpus of Tai Chi studies suggests significant benefits could be trans-generational if presented in novel ways and taught in developmentally appropriate approaches to children.
 
Robert B. Wall, a Family Nurse Practitioner and also trained in teaching Tai Chi, Chi Gong, and mindfulness meditation, has led a clinical project that used combined Tai Chi and MBSR as an educational program back in 2005. The 5-week program demonstrated that sustained interest in this material in middle schoolˇVaged boys and girls is possible. Statements the boys and girls made in the process suggested that they experienced well-being, calmness, relaxation, improved sleep, less reactivity, increased self-care, self-awareness, and a sense of interconnection or interdependence with nature.
 
This study was published by Journal of Pediatric Health Care in its 2005 Jul-Aug issue.
 
In a separate case, Jefferson County Public Schools of Kentucky established a program that keeps African American males engaged in school, especially during the transitioning from elementary school to middle school. It uses a unique instructional model that provides academic enrichment, direct instruction in reading and math, and a full component of Tai Chi. Baba Serakali, a program mentor and tai chi instructor, said that Tai Chi teaches the students to control their body which teaches them discipline in the classroom. This translates into better academic performance, as students modify their behavior to become more focused on their school work.
 
You can read more about this program on this website: http://mymassp.com/content/middle_transitions


 
 

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