Finding kids activities in Shanghai for your expat children is easier than ever.
Are you considering relocating to Shanghai, but concerned about activities for your children while here? Or maybe you’re already in Shanghai, but looking for more children's activities during after-school hours or on the holidays.
Don’t worry, there is a wide variety of sports clubs and other kids activities in Shanghai organised by the international schools as well as other organisations.
From tennis to swimming, English or American football, frisbee and skateboarding; you can find almost any sports activities your kids enjoy back home.
We spoke with several expat professionals involved in organising and coaching kids activities in Shanghai.
We also have a list of sports clubs for kids Shanghai expats can contact at the end of the article.
Matthew Pidoux- Health and Physical Education Teacher — Shanghai United International School
Whether your coming for the long or short term there are fantastic opportunities for expat children of all ages to get into kids activities in Shanghai that will provide endless entertainment, athletic development, and sports education in the city.
Within the International and Blingual Schools there are opportunities a plenty for students to take part in competitive sporting fixtures during the semester. No matter your ability, you will always be considered and invited along to the games if your attitude is right!
The Elementary Schools with a bilingual emphasis take part in the Shanghai School Sports Association League (SSSA). Shanghai United International School (SUIS) and Western International School (WISS) are two of the schools that take part in this league.
Several of the major Elementary International Schools (British International School, Shanghai American School and Wellington School) compete in the CISSA League (China International School Sports Association) for Years 4 – 9 (Grades 3 - 8 American system). The teams are coached professionally by teachers and trainers and compete against other International Schools at the weekend.
High School Students also have plenty of chances to show their skills and play in the ACAMIS league (Association China and Mongolia International Schools) where the students also have the opportunity to compete in fixtures in different parts of China and overseas.
Summer Sports Camps in Shanghai
During my times as a ‘Sports Coach’ for MultiSportChina I was responsible for motivating and coaching sport to young International students from across the world and was also given the additional responsibility of coordinating the summer camp logistics and schedule. ‘The experience of working with young people from a wide range of different ethnic and economic backgrounds was a great experience'.
The summer camps take place in the expat living compounds of some of the highly looked after and prestige locations in Shanghai that can offer facilities like Olympic pools, gymnasiums and well looked after soccer fields.
Narayan de With- Director of Sports at Shanghai Sports United:
Shanghai; expat city number one in Asia and perhaps also in the world, has a large number of Extra Curricular sports activities for kids in Shanghai. In each of the four major expat area’s; Gubei, Downtown, Huacao, Jinqiao, sports providers run football, basketball, swim, dance and other programs.
Swimming is huge in Shanghai with nearly 2,000 competitive international swimmers and meets organised throughout Asia and China!
Some companies such as ours; Shanghai Sports United, run Sports Camps for Shanghai expat children during school holidays and make use of the state of the art facilities that the international schools have to offer.
A few companies have former pro athletes and former national team coaches teaching the highest level of sports and competition.
As an expatriate child in Shanghai you should definitely join one of these sports organisations! Besides all the fun that comes with it, it is also very important that you stay healthy and in good condition.
In Shanghai where distances are big, air and water pollution is all around us, friends live far away and you spend a lot of time travelling to class, eating, and doing your homework - you shouldn't forget what's most important: to stay healthy!
Dave Siddall- General Manager at Sport For Life:
Most International Schools cater for a range of kids activities in Shanghai, usually focusing on high participation sports like soccer and basketball.
However other niche activities such as skateboarding and parkour now seem to becoming more popular.
All our Sport For Life after-school classes are taught in English and usually to expat students. The international schools have a requirement where the students need to have a foreign passport to enroll.
Apart from the after-school programs for international school children, we run our own classes where students from any school or community in Shanghai can join in. Again these classes are all taught in English.
Sport and physical activity is a hugely under-rated tool for a student's physical and mental development.
Study's such as Nike's "Designed to Move" report has found that students who participate and have a positive first impression in their sport classes tend to go on and have better performance academically.
They are also likely to develop strong social skills and understanding of healthy lifestyles.
Look for quality teaching through tailored drills that are inclusive and fast paced, but appropriate for the age and skill level of your child.
They should not have a prolonged period of standing round; they should be constantly moving and engaged in a well prepared and planned session. This will increase the chances of the students enjoying their experience and continuing with physical activity.
Conrad Singh- Director of China Elite Tennis Academy:
One of the most organised kids activities in Shanghai is tennis, where you can find city wide programs from world class academies such as ours recognised by the ATPCA.
The programs filter down to absolute beginners with the Red, Orange and Green ball as well as programs for competitive players. There are monthly tournaments and weekly match play sessions.
You can easily arrange an assessment to find out the appropriate level for your children.
The SCSC Club in Pudong is an amazing facility with numerous sports being offered for Shanghai kids with professional coaching and is definitely a place to check out your options.
Other sports such as soccer are very big in Shanghai and academies such as Ebbe Sand Soccer Academy cater to expat children.
Holiday Sports Camps in Shanghai are a great way for your child to discover their likes and potential.
Various Christmas, Chinese New Year and Summer camps for expat children offer swimming, tennis, soccer, multiple crossover sports and also fun camps for the young ones with arts and crafts.
Magnus Lobo- Athletic Trainer/Head Coach Shanghai Dragons:
The availability of kids activities in Shanghai for expats has grown over the years. Sports at international schools vary. Most programs are competitive beginning at the high school level. Schools are pushing basketball and soccer at the middle school levels though.
If there is a sport that is not offered at the school your child is enrolled at, there are many different providers around the city that may have what you’re looking for.
Each of these organizations are well run and provide great opportunities for your child(ren) to grow and develop along with other expat Shanghai kids.
Activities range from American football, ice hockey, gymnastics, basketball, baseball, soccer, touch rugby, and swimming.
There are recreational Frisbee leagues as well. They’re offered at all levels and even give your kids a chance to travel aboard to play internationally.
I coach American football with the Pudong Dragons. The Dragons are a youth tackle football team for kids 8-14 years of age. I am a Certified Athletic Trainer as well, so kids and parents can be sure they are safe while participating at every practice and game.
Young men are taught the basics and matched according to size and skill to prevent any discrepancies or injuries. Dragon’s season runs in the fall, kicking off in September and running all the way to December.
Many of my players play other sports as well. The leagues do a good job of alternating their days so there is no overlap between practices and games.
With so many kids activities in Shanghai available you do not need to worry about your children getting bored or out of shape. Here is a list of organisations you can get in contact with:
Return to Main Shanghai Fitness Page
Front Page of Foreigners Health and Safety Shanghai Website