Early Childhood environments allow us to use self regulation skills in a playful way.
We have had tremendous success teaching mindfulness and movement strategies in the Early Childhood environments. We know that early intervention is key. Read our blog post for 4 Key Tips to success in Early Childhood Environments.
To further support adults working in Pre-K and ECSE environments, we have created the Move Mindfully Early Childhood Card Deck! These beautiful visuals with simple, age appropriate language provide a great way to teach breathing, mindfulness and yoga-based movement in Early Education environments. Here is how you can use this tool with your young learners.
Get the group started with breathing. If you have a Hoberman Sphere*, start with the breathing ball card and let each child have a turn with the breathing ball before leading the group in 3-5 slow, deep belly breaths. If you don’t have the Hoberman Sphere, you can ask children to take a deep breath with their hands on their bellies and puff up their bellies like a balloon when they breathe in, and feel their belly sink down when they breathe out. Start with 3-5 breaths as a group after introducing the idea of belly breathing.
Using the Card Deck
Choose 4-5 cards to focus on and display them either in the center of the circle or on the board.
You might start with the Seed/Child’s Pose card and the Tree card. Get children into Seed and talk to them about how seeds are tucked down under the ground while they get ready to grow. Once they get enough sunshine and rain, the seeds can come up through the soil and grow into tiny little sprouts. When children are quiet and curled up in Seed Pose, reflect how calm their bodies are – this is a great pose to use before naptime/rest time, too. You can even ask children to show their families at home this great pose for before bedtime!
From Seed, count to 3 and have the children come up from the floor into a little green sprout – then you can all grow into a Tree. For younger bodies, Tree Pose might require leaning against a wall or getting the support of an adult to balance. Repeat Seed to Tree again to give opportunity to balance on the other foot, as well.
You could also choose to use Mountain, Hi Sun (Upward Mountain), Waterfall (Forward Fold) as your movement sequence. Still being playful as you move – waving Hi to the Sun in Upward Mountain, coming down into Forward Fold like water flowing down a mountain. Repeating this sequence 3 times will help children start to calm since they are folding forward, bringing their heads below their hearts and taking out all the visual sensory distractions as they breathe deeply.
End the lesson by getting children lying on their backs with a stuffed animal on their belly. Encourage them to breathe deeply so they can rock their animal to sleep on their belly. Then as children become quieter and more still, let them know that their stuffed animal has fallen asleep.
As you continue to work with children you can add more cards and extend the Final Story from one to three minutes to five to seven minutes. Our card deck has useful tips and helpful sequences to get you started. Invite the children to help pick the cards you will use each time and most of all have fun!
Do you use yoga based movement in an Early Childhood setting? What has worked well? Leave a comment!
Written by, Chrissy Mignogna