Create a Routine
In my experiences with preschoolers, I’ve embraced the freedom to keep classes simple. For example, the first thing I did was create a simple routine: a ritual opening, a set of warm-up exercises, a few poses that relate to a theme (this is the variety from week to week), maybe an activity or a book, and a Savasana ritual.
Teach the Base Poses
A big difference I see between preschoolers and older kids is how you give instructions. A simple pose, such as Cat/Cow, needs step by step direction at this age. They don’t all know what it means to “get on all fours.” I look around and see them mooing and meowing from child’s pose or Down Dog or something in between. So the first two weeks of each school year, I teach the base poses. Then, we practice how to go from a base pose to another pose.
Identify Body Parts
Another important point to remember is that preschoolers don’t all know the names for body parts yet, such as heels, palms of hands, or wrists. So we identify body parts before we place them. I make it fun by incorporating Mrs. Yoga Says and they laugh a lot as we try to move quickly to the pose I call out.
Remember They Receive More Than You Realize
Generally my classes go very well. I almost always leave feeling happy. But as in all jobs, some days are better than others. Maybe it is my mood, maybe some of the kids were just not at their best, but there are days when I ask myself after class, “Really, what just happened?” Thankfully I am frequently given reminders that they are taking in much more that I realize. Reminders such as these are true gifts:
- A mom of four boys tells me that in the middle of an especially chaotic morning at home, her youngest child sits on the kitchen floor in pretzel legs and starts to OM.
- A parent at a sports event stops to tell me how much his child talks about yoga and does the poses at home. (This child is a daydreamer in my class.)
- The child in class who finishes my sentences and gives the class directions to a pose.
- The child who will not ever cooperate hugs and kisses my leg at the end of class.
- My favorite text from a mom saying her daughter told her that she needs to lay down in Savasana.
- In deep relaxing breathing, a child looks like she is truly breathing in the breath of life.
- Kids remembering and requesting certain poses.
Yes, preschoolers do learn in yoga class and I am not spinning my wheels. Preschoolers keep me on my toes and make me laugh. They remind me why I love yoga and renew my gratitude for my YogaKids training and community.