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The Art of Zen for Children: Sports and Academics

By: John Chu

                “Without a balance of body and mind, neither can function to its full potential…”  This is one of the core teachings of Zen. Along with spiritual growth, we must keep a balance of all three. This basic teaching applies to children as well as adult. Most of the parents of Concordian are well aware of these teachings, which is why we choose to send our kids to CIS. The school tries to balance Eastern values with western academics.  With this in mind, I will focus on balancing the body within CIS and what we, as parents, can do to support this balance.

                It is without a doubt that exercise and sports should play an important role in a children’s life. In many studies by various universities and institutes, it has been shown that children that are active in such activities as sports tend to have a lower risk of heath problem later in life, have improved math scores, lower stress and improved time management.  At CIS, there are various afterschool sporting activities and the school is developing teams sport as well.

               CIS Sport day
              It is often asked at what age children should participate in team
sports. The general answer from medical and educators seems to place the earliest age at around 6-7 years old.   It’s believed that children need to be mature enough to start learning the reason for discipline and the goals for competition. In addition, children younger than this are not well develop for the rigors of active team sports. Rather, children below this age should focus on active play where fun is the emphasis and learn basic developmental skills.   For older children, the recommendation is to offer a wide range of sports to stimulate interest. This will help prevent burn-out and help develop an overall well balance developed body. Experts suggest that once children reach 13 or above then they can focus on one particular sport which they enjoy.

                With the demands of today’s academic excellence, children often find themselves with little time for exercise and sports.  With this in mind, it is important that we follow the above guideline carefully.  As a child gets older, they tend to have less time outside of studies; as a result, they should pick only one sport to excel in. This will help them with setting focus, dedication and time management. While younger kids should still have the same focus and dedication, their sporting duration should be shorter to as explained above.

aOne important component of sports is parent involvement.  It is essential for parents to be involved directly, if not indirectly in their sporting activity. If possible, practice the sports together with them on your free time. This will help not only in their health but also the parents’ and provide quality family time. Attend their sporting competition or matches and give moral support to them even if they lose also helps. At the minimum, encouragement to continue with practice and the sport is important.  Even if the child feels unmotivated or feels like they cannot win, the important lesson for them to learn is that we must persist even in difficulties, not give up, and that we must start from the bottom and work our way up to win. Success never just falls on our lap without persistent and hard work.

                I ask for your support in sports for our children at CIS. I believe it will help our children in their health, lower stress, improves the mind, help teach sportsmanship, time management, focus and countless other benefits. In the next article, I will go into the sports schedule, TISAC, and how their sports rotation means to us.  If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me directly at  I am open to the idea of forming a support group for sports or other ideas.

** Article of interest:

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Concordian International School promotes academic excellence while nurturing young people to become moral and
intellectual leaders, people of dignity, integrity and compassion, who want to make a difference in the world.