How karate helps children do better in school
The excitement of the first weeks of school is behind us and the new routines are starting to settle in. Now is a good time to make sure everything is in place for children to make the most of their school year.
We all know that physical activity and being healthy in general are great contributors to the academic success of children. We didn’t invent the phrase “mens sana in corpore sano” (a sound mind in a sound body). The Roman poet Juvenal did, in the first or second century AD. We still quote him two thousand years later for a reason.
Nowadays studies put the matter into more scientific language. For instance a paper for the National Center for Biotechnology Information said: “To be successful takes creativity, flexibility, self-control, and discipline. Central to all those are ‘executive functions,’ including mentally playing with ideas, giving a considered rather than an impulsive response, and staying focused. Diverse activities have been shown to improve children’s executive functions – computerized training, non-computerized games, aerobics, martial arts, yoga, mindfulness, and school curricula.”
Recent statistics show that the vast majority of Canadian children don’t get the recommen
ded amount of “heart-pumping activity they need each day.” This is where karate can help, by giving kids the kind of intense physical activity they need, in a positive atmosphere that’s also a lot of fun. Karate classes, like other healthy physical activities, also help children get proper rest and sleep better. And it matters; scientists are now paying a lot of attention to how physical exercise and sleep work together and benefit each other when it comes to overall health in children, leading to new recommendations including what is known as the world’s first “24-Hour Movement Guidelines” for children and teens, which you can consult online here, or download here.
Health and regular exercise contribute greatly to mental and psychological health, which in turn are very much necessary for scholarly success. The kind of physical exercise kids get as part of their regular karate classes certainly contributes to a healthy lifestyle.
At Douvris Martial Arts our goal is to help each student become the best person he or she can be. We work on physical fitness, mental discipline, general health and improved focus. But we also work, along with parents, on making sure kids do well in school. “I think the fact that they learn how to focus and concentrate in class would help them with their school work,” explains Master Sensei John Douvris. “Plus when students go for their next belt they get that little sheet where their parents have to fill out how they did in school, and they don’t want their sensei to know that they didn’t do well in school. It makes them feel responsible.”
Finally, the discipline and self-confidence that karate brings young students help them deal with the challenges some of them can face outside the immediate supervision of teachers. Alain M., whose 8-year-old son has been a Douvris student for 4 years, commented that the training his son gets at Douvris has helped him avoid getting into pointless fights and arguments in the school yard. “He takes very seriously the warning his senseis gave him never to start a fight, even when other kids test him,” Alain said. But sometimes, if he sees a smaller kid being threatened or harassed, he will step in with confidence and break up the fight. “He’s become a bit of a peacemaker.”