Even in taekwondo, Smarty ended up accelerating. Her studio does belt testing twice a year, in June and in December, and normally it takes a student 3 years to get to a black belt if he/she is consistent and stays with a requirement of at least 15 lessons in 2 months and then goes through belt testing and belt promotion ceremony getting the next belt level. But last year, her studio was experimenting with testing each month, and Smarty used this opportunity to "rack up" more belt levels in a year than usual 6. The studio eliminated this policy this year, but Smarty was just about close enough to "squeeze" into June testing, so she started taekwondo in November 2016, just after her 10th birthday and got her belt now, a few months before her 13th.
I have to give Smarty that she worked hard at something that did not come quite as naturally to her as academics. There were occasions when she really did not feel like going to the practice, and I was always leaving the choice to her telling her to do the right thing. In 9 cases out of 10 she ended up reluctantly going on such days and then being happy about being true to her commitment. She was also able to overcome her initial fear of being hurt while breaking boards or sparring. It does not mean that she was never hurt. Just recently we had an interesting conversation when she mentioned how taekwondo taught her to be more pain tolerant and continue even when things are not physically comfortable. She pushed herself to master board breaks that were difficult for her - not breaking the board hurts a lot more than actually breaking it, and there were many cases when she had bruises from unsuccessful board breaks. Yet, she persisted.
I am grateful that Smarty stuck with taekwondo and intends to continue to practice and even potentially teach through her high school years. This sport did not just increase her physical stamina and endurance, it also strengthened her character. She knows now that she is able to persist when things get tough and that she can achieve long term goals. She also wants to try Krav Maga which is only available to students once they turn 13 - despite all the sparring, taekwondo is still in essence a "show sport", and Smarty would like to be able to defend herself for real even though we all hope this necessity never arises.
Are your kids involved in sports? Which ones?