Kids Yoga in Schools: Getting First Graders Ready to Write
Sue, a first grade teacher from Michigan writes:
I was wondering the best combinations [of poses] to use [with my students] for getting ready to write.”
This is a great question! Yoga in schools can be a powerful resource for helping kids get ready to write, as well as do other school tasks. Kids’ Yoga is not going to take overly energetic children and mesmerize them into a state of conformity, but it can help a child transform their energy into a more usable form for accomplishing particular tasks. As teachers we occasionally need tiny reminders that children are not built to sit for long periods, and their squirminess might be good feedback to us that their bodies truly need to move in order for their brains to work most efficiently.
I know that, as an adult, when I rush around my world to run errands and then sit down in front of my computer to get some work done, it takes me a bit of time to refocus on my task at hand. Also, if I sit for an extended period of time I need to get up and move to focus most efficiently. Similarly, if a child is moving from one activity to the next without time to refocus with some deliberate guidance, or is sitting for extending periods of time without a chance for specific movement, then it’s likely that s/he won’t be able to give her best.
Yoga in schools can provide purposeful tools for helping children refocus. There’s much involved in how yoga can do this. However, simply put, focusing on one’s body to get into and hold a pose can help quiet the mind’s chatter, allowing more space for purposefully focused thought. And if the yoga movement itself is sufficiently involved it can fulfill the body’s need to move in order to stimulate the necessary systems for optimal learning.
In other words the physical yoga poses and the focus necessary to accomplish them work in tandem to help children refocus.
In addition to this, particular sequencing of poses also has the potential to calm the nervous system, which counters the stressors that physically shut down the brain for learning. The brain of a child who is in distress physically shuts down the networking necessary for learning. The brain of a relaxed child has much greater learning potential.
When thinking about yoga in schools it might be helpful to know that poses can be divided into three categories regarding their main effects on the nervous system:
- energizing poses (red – see arrow in pic below)
- calming poses (blue)
- neutral poses (yellow)
Poses can be sequenced to deliberately shoot for particular goals. For example, our Brain Break sequence was created to assist students in refocusing within their school day with the least number of poses necessary to accomplish the goal.
Brain Break Sequence includes:
- Triangle – general movement lengthening and strengthening the entire body
- Standing V – the inversion allows blood flow to the brain which may enhance mental functioning and forward bends calm the nervous system
- Eagle – crosses the mid-line helping the two halves of the brain communicate through the corpus callosum (helping to coordinate skills being carried out in different parts of the brain). Eagle also stimulates the vestibular system (balance), stimulating the brain for new learning
- Sailboat – crosses the mid-line and twisting allows for additional release of tension
Note below: the color coding above each pose in the app screenshot: red, blue and yellow represent energizing, calming and neutral poses respectively.
The Jazz up My Brain sequence within the Sing Song Yoga App is a longer version at 22 minutes. Teachers can throw poses out or add poses within the app within the sequence canvas and make it work for each situation. Sequences you create can be saved and named. And here’s another example of the app in use.
Thanks for stopping by! We intend to continue growing our posts dedicated to helping teachers enjoy the benefits of yoga in the classroom!
Until next time, Happy Teaching!
For more info:
This entry was posted on Saturday, January 24th, 2015.
Posted in Benefits of Yoga, Education, Kid's Yoga Sequences, Sing Song Yoga, Yoga in Schools.
Tagged: app, children, childrens yoga, first graders, health, ipad app, iphone app, ipod touch app, kids, kids yoga, kids yoga app, kids yoga benefits, mindfulness, physical activities for toddlers, research, schools, sing song yoga, test prep, writing, yoga for kids, yoga in schools, yoga in the classroom, yoga poses