Toddlers and preschoolers taking part in a yoga class is not only absolutely adorable; it’s beneficial for children of all ages.
Toddle spoke to assistant centre manager Nikkie McMullen, and Stacey Nicoll, in-house yoga teacher and educator at Leopold Early Learning Centre in Victoria.
‘Once a week our children’s yoga teacher, Stacey, visits each room within the centre and invites everyone to join in on her yoga and mindfulness sessions,’ shares Nikkie. ‘She guides the children through assorted yoga and mindfulness experiences and exercises.’
Rather than being just another activity for the children to opt into, Nikkie shares that the benefits of yoga are far-reaching.
‘Practising yoga and mindfulness at any age has many positive benefits. Yoga is fantastic for developing motor skills, hand-eye coordination and strengthening growing bodies,’ she explains.
‘Mindfulness encourages our children to build their self-esteem and confidence by supporting them to connect and process their emotions.’
But the benefits don’t stop there. Stacey shares that yoga can actually help keep children healthy from the inside out.
‘Yoga promotes the development of strong muscles and bones, supports and strengthens the immune system by reducing stress, helps balance energy levels and calms the nervous system, develops sensory awareness and improves the digestive system,’ says Stacey.
The yoga classes were on the program from the first day that the centre opened in September 2019. Each room at the centre takes part in a 30 minute session each week, however this is flexible. ‘If the children are enjoying themselves, we are happy to extend the session for longer,’ says Stacey.
For Nikkie, the yoga sessions are a selling point for her centre, with prospective parents offering terrific feedback on the program. ‘During parent walkthroughs and orientations, we always share with our new families our yoga experiences that our children are currently engaging in,’ Nikkie explains. ‘Families always respond in a positive and enthusiastic way!’
Yoga teacher Stacey (who is one of the permanent nursery room educators) explains the poses to the younger children through descriptions of animals, books and songs that they are familiar with and can associate with the poses.
‘Our older children are confidently able to memorise the titles of the traditional yoga poses, and are not afraid to share their excitement when they are able to name a pose without assistance!’ shares Stacey.
‘Children are always proud of what they can achieve and are able to confidently share the new knowledge they have gained after the yoga sessions with their peers and educators.’
Parents offer a lot of positive feedback to the Leopold Early Learning team about yoga. ‘Parents will share stories of their children demonstrating and discussing yoga and mindfulness exercise whilst at home,’ explains Nikkie.
For the children, it’s not about the health benefits so much as just getting in there and trying something new. ‘Our children love to explore and discover new learning experiences,’ says Nikkie.
‘Stacey bases her yoga sessions on the children’s current interests to extend on their own skills and development.’
Stacey makes her yoga sessions fun and enjoyable for the children, and ensures that everyone feels included and excited to engage in the session.
Stacey shares some of her yoga and mindfulness sessions with the families on the centre’s Facebook page, so children are able to participate and share their yoga skills and capabilities with their families. She also describes each day’s session with families on Kindy Hub, the parent communication app.
Nikkie feels that the sessions help calm the children down and makes them mindful of their bodies. ‘Learning these skills in early childhood has many benefits,’ says Nikkie.
‘Not only in the short term but they are skills they will be able to use throughout their life. A few of our children have enrolled in yoga classes outside of the centre because of the benefits and positive effect it has had on the child’s wellbeing.’
Does your child care centre offer yoga classes? Would this be a selling point for you when choosing care for your little one? At Toddle we make choosing a child care centre easier with everything you need in one place.
You can find out more about Leopold Early Learning Centre here.
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