How kids yoga aids school readiness 

Wednesday 14th September 2016

This is the time of year when excited preschoolers and their families go to their ‘Big School’ orientations.  Much of the year has been spent learning letters, numbers and alike.  All this knowledge is a great foundation; however research shows us that focusing on socio-emotional skills is the best way to set kids up for success.  The Dunedin Study, a ground breaking longitudinal study from New Zealand found that “Young children’s self-control skills — such as conscientiousness, self-discipline and perseverance — predict their health, wealth and criminal history in later life regardless of IQ or social background”.

Kids yoga classes greatly contribute to the development of social and emotional skills.  Here are some areas of yoga that help kids develop self-control and prepare them for school.

Practice of kindness – At the heart of yoga is loving-kindness towards ourselves, others and the world around us. One of my favorite class activities is the loving-kindness meditation.  The kids send their loving-kindness out into the world, to those they love and those they don’t.  This kind of awareness helps build positive relationships with others.  It also avoids unintentional hurtful comments that could be seen as bullying.

Cultivating self-belief – the learning curve at Primary School for many is steep. It can be easy for children to lose confidence during this time.  In kids yoga we practice balancing poses.  When kids are learning them they fall over – a lot.  Yoga teaches kids that it is OK to make mistakes; it’s how we learn and grow.  Kids who practice yoga become resilient; they connect with their inner strength and know they can achieve their goals through patience and perseverance.

Managing emotions – Starting school is a big milestone. For some it can be scary.  For others it can be frustrating when they can’t always do what they want to do.  Yoga helps kids to identify their emotions.  We practice breathing techniques that calm the mind.  They understand that emotions will come and go and they can control how they respond when a strong emotion comes calling.  Kid’s yoga increases emotional self-regulation.

Connecting with others – Some kids will be going to a school where they don’t know anyone. Kids yoga builds confidence, it also celebrates the differences between people.  Through partner and group work kids develop trust in one another.   When we create group human mandala’s, the kids support each other to create the shape.  They become non-judgmental and accepting of the limitations of others.  They gain a sense of achievement through supporting each other and working together.

Kids yoga classes can do much more for school readiness than create a strong body to carry an enormous school bag. It is wonderful to see so many preschools adding yoga to their curriculum. Many Primary Schools also see the benefits of kids yoga and have classes available during and outside school hours.

By offering a blend of academic and socio-emotional skills we give our children the best possible start in this new chapter in their lives.