Years ago, I found myself full of anxiety from the demands teaching in a public school kindergarten class brought. I often thought if I come to school with such stress and anxiety, what must my young students be feeling? That is when I was introduced to yoga for kids. It was a life-changing practice that I am so happy to have discovered. My students really responded to the different calming exercises and activities. Anyone who has attended a yoga class knows how relaxed and healthy you feel afterward! This is the same for young children. Yoga and mindfulness support young children in developing gratitude, kindness to self/others, self-awareness, and self-regulation. Below are a few favorite calming strategies you can introduce to your child.
Ask children to position themselves criss-cross applesauce and lead them in singing “Namaste” to the tune of “Wheels on the Bus.”
“My little light bows to your little light, your little light, your little light.
Your little light bows to my little light. NA-MA-STE.” At that point, honor your self and your partner by bowing . This is a great closing activity for the day!
Breathing Buddies-Play soothing music and have your child lie on their back. Place a small stuffed animal on their belly. Have your child slowly inhale through their nose and exhale with their breathing buddy on their belly. Encourage your child to focus on their breath and look at their buddy while it bobs (moves) up and down on their belly. They can repeat this process as many times as they like. They will feel excited while relaxing and lowering their stress.
Bubbles-Children are able to enjoy just being. Walk around and blow bubbles and direct your child to observe the bubbles. Encourage your child to think about what they look like (are they big or small), and what they feel like. Your child will relax and wonder about the bubbles as they float and gently fall. Encourage your child to wonder how long it will take before the bubble will pop. With this practice, we learn that like our thoughts, bubbles come and go.
The Breathing Ball (Hoberman Sphere) – is an excellent tool to support children in regulating their angry or anxious emotions. Start out by having your child put one hand on their belly and the other on their heart while breathing in and out. Adding the ball to this skill, your child will have a visual while practicing their breathing. Have your child inhale while slowly expanding the ba
ll and exhale while bringing the ball back in. Teaching young children to connect to their breath is teaching them to be mindful of what they are feeling in the moment. This is a wonderful way for your child to relax and practice their calming skills. They will love it!
Some other benefits of yoga and mindfulness for children include…
- Increases strength and flexibility
- Builds coordination and balance
- Fortifies all bodily systems: nervous, circulatory, digestive, endocrine, respiratory, skeletal, and muscular
- Helps build focus and attention
- Encourages creativity
- Teaches relaxation techniques
- Builds an awareness of nature and the environment
- Encourages unity and a sense of value
- Teaches respect, compassion, and sharing
- Instills confidence with new experiences and challenges
- Teaches how to find a sense of calmness and self-control
- Promotes self-discipline
~Health and Happiness
Guest Blogger: Christina Benedict, Early Childhood Consultant at Wayne RESA GSRP
Great Start Readiness Program is a Michigan state-funded preschool program for four-year-old children with factors which may place them at risk of educational failure. The program is administered by the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Great Start. Funding is allocated to Wayne RESA to administer the program locally.
These blogs were developed and funded under a grant awarded by the Michigan Department of Education.
Research on preschool programs and specific research on GSRP indicates that children provided with a high-quality preschool experience show significant positive developmental differences when compared to children from the same backgrounds who did not attend a high-quality preschool program.