Yoga Calm turns 20 this year, and for about half of those years, we’ve been blogging. Over that time, we’ve seen some posts stay extremely popular long after they first went online. These include posts on nurturing focus and self-control in kids with ADHD, teaching yoga to boys, and introducing Yoga Calm to preschoolers.
Indeed, there’s a real hunger for practical tips for working with younger grades in particular, and we’re especially grateful to all the preK-2 teachers who, over the years, have shared real stories from their classrooms to provide inspiration and guidance for others.
This week, we’re pleased to share a post by one of them, Beth Taylor. Living in Oregon City, Beth is a veteran teacher of kindergarten and first grade and has used Yoga Calm for over 10 years – not just in the classroom but also in after-school programs and at family fitness nights, sometimes working with kids as young as 3.
As soon as August hits, teachers everywhere start to think about heading back to school. You hear it in conversations and see it all over social media. Some dread the end to their summer vacation while others show enthusiasm for the start of a new year and a new group of students.
My summer ended earlier than most, as I had the opportunity to teach a summer camp at my school. Thirteen of my incoming students will spend all of this month with me and get a jump start on kindergarten.
These kids were chosen to participate for a variety of reasons. Some have no previous school experience, while others were recommended by their preschool teachers. Unanimously, they all need social-emotional skill building.
On the first day of camp, I had one student who refused to participate, another who refused to even talk, a student who melted down in the middle of the hallway on the way to lunch, a student who scaled the fence at recess, and several who just had trouble sharing. I went home a little defeated and knew (as is the case with the beginning of every school year) that I needed to start from scratch. I needed to begin by building a community of learners.
As a Yoga Calm Instructor, I knew that integrating activities around the principles of Community, Listening, Grounding, Strength, and Stillness would yield big rewards in my classroom. So the next day, I started teaching the Name Game during our morning meeting. I read My Friend Rabbit, and we talked about what a community is. By the end of the week, all of my students were participating. Even the one who wouldn’t talk on the first day was becoming quite vocal!
The activities that I pulled from to get through my first week of camp are ones that I included in the curriculum guide I developed and designed for the PreK-2 classroom, Life Skills for Little Ones. For years, other Yoga Calm Instructors had asked about lessons for the early grades that incorporate the Yoga Calm principles and poses. So I developed this guide with tried and true lessons from my 17 years of teaching.
It’s been a pleasure and a privilege working with Jim and Lynea to bring it to life and make it available now to an even wider array of instructors.
Life Skills for Little Ones is intended to be used in conjunction with the Yoga Calm for Children book. It includes five lessons for each of the Yoga Calm principles, giving a total of five weeks’ worth of lessons overall. Each lesson also includes suggested ice breaker activities, read aloud texts, yoga poses, games, reflections/relaxations, and an occasional art project and homework assignment. At the end of the book, you’ll find lists of additional activities and resources for each of the principles, as well.
Developing social and emotional skills in the early years supports school readiness skills. Students learn self-control, cooperativeness, communication, confidence, and collaboration. Life Skills for Little Ones is one tool to help develop these skills and set your year off to a good start.