Most of us are aware of the benefits of yoga on children. Yoga can help instil a sense of calmness on children and help them develop a positive self-image. Yoga provides children with tools and techniques to help them deal with issues caused by the daily demands and pressures from our modern lives. Yoga can also help enhance children’s flexibility and strength and refine their balance and co-ordination.
But did you know that yoga can also help children develop the appropriate skills required for optimal learning in school? The Victorian Education and Training currently recognises three School Readiness priority areas.These are: communication (language development), wellbeing (social and emotional) and access and inclusion.
How does a kindergarten yoga program help address these priority areas key to helping a child become ready for school?
Communication (Language Development)
Receptive language – Yoga teaches children how to follow verbal instructions on how to perform yoga poses and follow class rules. With time, children develop body awareness and learn how to coordinate their body to perform the yoga pose in line with the instructions.
Expressive language – Unlike adults yoga classes, kids yoga classes are interactive. Children are welcomed and encouraged to ask / answer questions and contribute their ideas in the class, helping them develop their expressive communication skills.
Wellbeing (Social and Emotional)
Self-confidence – Yoga teaches children how to love and accept themselves, helping improve self-esteem.
Self-regulation and emotional development – Yoga teaches children to focus and concentrate. Yoga teaches them to recognise and accept their emotions and apply techniques to self-regulate.
Social Skills – Most children’s yoga classes include partner and group yoga poses and activities. This encourages the development of social skills in children as they work with their peers.
Gross motor skills – Yoga encourages development of body awareness. It helps build good core, back, legs and arms strength. It helps develop co-ordination, balance and flexibility.
Independence – A good children’s yoga class should follow a good routine – warm up, breathing, yoga poses, games, relaxation. As the children becomes familiar with the structure and routine of the class, they start to develop independence, requiring less assistance and prompting.
Access and Inclusion
Yoga is a practice available for all. It’s a holistic practice that looks at the whole child. A children’s yoga class should acknowledge the different ways that children learn and deliver classes that cater for visual, aural, verbal and physical learners. Children’s yoga classes should also be flexible and adjusted to cater for the children’s needs and energy on the day rather than sticking to a defined / planned sequence.
A kindergarten yoga program can help children become ready for school and can be a good use of the kindergarten’s school readiness funding as it aligns with the three priority areas identified by the Victorian Education and Training: communication, wellbeing and access & inclusion.