For many new teachers, a preschool class (children who are walking to around 4 years old) is difficult because the kids have a short attention span. I find this age group so cute and enthusiastic, it is one of my favorite classes to teach!
Use these tips for teaching yoga to preschool aged children and you just may find yourself wrapped up in the best group hug you’ve ever had at the end of a yoga class.
Yoga For Preschool Children
Adults have been walking so long we forget that just standing is a balancing pose. Teaching yoga to preschool kids means thinking like a preschooler.
Preschool children usually range in age from toddlers up to 4 or 5 years old. The age depends on when children can attend full day school in your area. In some regions, kindergarten is a half day, in others it is a full day.
Here’s a quick overview of the many changes that happen during these years, in case you don’t remember from when you were a kid:
- At 12 months kids are usually standing on their own and taking their first wobbly steps, they’re only speaking a few word;
- at 18 months the kids are toddlers, meaning they walk well, starting to go upstairs or walk backwards, their vocabulary is around 15 words;
- 2 years – identifying body parts, putting words together, singing, jumping;
- 2 – 3 yrs – can follow 2 step instructions, throw overhand, jump, run, and potty train
- 3 – 4 yrs – speaking short sentences, walk backwards, sideways, balance on one foot for a few seconds, pedal a tricycle, use a fork/spoon and hold a pencil correctly.
- 5 – 6 yrs – now we can start introducing complex poses!
Choosing Yoga Poses for Preschool Kids
When it comes to yoga, the poses must fit the child’s stage of development. When choosing poses ask yourself:
- How many steps does it take to get into this pose?
- How much co-ordination/balance does it take?
- Do the kids know the body part I am naming?
- How much abdominal strength does this pose take? I’ve found younger children have more flexibility, especially in forward bends, but less ab muscles for things like rocking on your back.
Favorite Yoga Poses for Preschool Age
Here are five of my favorite yoga poses to teach to preschoolers. Even at 18 months they just copy these:
- downward dog
- Child pose
- Upward hands/Warrior 1
5 Least Favorite Poses for Preschool Age
Here are five poses that seem like they should be easy to do – but for younger kids they can get awkward:
- tree – notice (above) that balancing on one foot doesn’t happen till 3 – 4 yrs old,
- cat pose – when kids see this one they often go into downward dog – they need help to understand that they keep their knees on the floor,
- pigeon – any three or four step poses will probably require individual attention.
- Wheel Pose: is just too advanced for this age group
- Plank pose: this age does not have the muscle development to hold this position for any length of time
Teaching Preschool Age Yoga depends on the Location
If you’re teaching yoga in your living room or in a studio to a small group, you’ve got the time and attention to get awkward and work out so more challenging poses.
Keep in mind that if a child isn’t doing a pose, it may not be because they need more coaxing, they may be a different stage of development for the moves you are teaching.
Be sure you realize it’s your problem and not theirs.
If you’re teaching a large class (15 – 20 children) in a thirty minute daycare setting, you’re going to adjust your lesson plan according to the complexity of the poses you have chosen.
The more complex the poses, the more time they will take to teach.
What are your favorite preschool yoga poses?
Have you ever taught a pose the kids just couldn’t figure out? How did you adjust your lesson plan?