Keep it moving in childcare: Yoga with children

Physical activity is an important part of any childcare program. Using yoga during the day can help children focus and calm themselves to reduce stress.

Yoga is a great activity for adults and children alike. Photo credit: Pixabay.
Yoga is a great activity for adults and children alike. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Increasing physical activity is important for everyone, but it is especially important for children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends children and teens get 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. A lot of children already meet these guidelines and if they don’t, there are many ways to increase physical activity throughout the day. Trying a variety of different types of activity can help to keep you and the children from getting bored with doing the same thing over and over.

Michigan State University Extension encourages yoga, as it is a great activity for adults and children alike. Some of the benefits of yoga include a greater sense of self, increased ability to relax and calm down to reduce stress and improve flexibility, balance and coordination. Yoga has even been shown to help children with ADHD and autism, as it helps children to focus on breathing and become more aware of their own physical space.

Children of all ages can benefit from adding yoga into their day. There are some simple yoga exercises that kids can do to help calm them and stretch their bodies. Many yoga poses for adults are the same for children or can easily be adapted for them, some examples are shown on Namaste kid. You can also print off pictures of yoga poses to show children what they look like and encourage them to imitate what they see in the picture. In a childcare setting, using yoga to begin the day or taking a yoga break to welcome school age children into the center may help them transition from home or school to childcare. The Nemour’s foundation has some great resources and videos to help explain the poses to children. Another great time to integrate yoga into the day is before naptime or bedtime to help children calm down and be ready to fall into a peaceful sleep.

One very important thing to remember is that yoga may look different for every individual. Each person has a different strength, ability level, balance and flexibility, so as long as the child is taking the time to focus on the pose they are doing, what they look like is not as important. Yoga, like any other sport or physical activity, takes practice. Try to find simple ways to add yoga into the day to relieve stress and to help you and the children focus on just being in the moment.

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