Looking for a way to entertain your toddler or preschooler while building important developmental skills at the same time? How about yoga? That’s right, even your little three-year-old can be a yoga master!
Yoga is a fun, interactive, and engaging activity which can help preschoolers improve developmental milestones pertaining to fine and gross motor skills, body awareness, and balance. Not only has yoga proven to be effective for developmental skills, it is also enjoyable for young children. It is becoming popular for preschool teachers to integrate yoga into their daily school routine with great results. Because it is inexpensive and requires no special equipment or certification to teach, yoga can be easily integrated into the preschool classroom setting, daycares, or at home. Children practicing yoga don’t even need yoga mats; the entire room is essentially their yoga mat. Studies show that yoga poses with preschool age groups also encourages self-regulation and mindfulness, encouraging better attention and learning in preschool.
The receptors that detect movement and body awareness are largely housed in our joints and muscles. Putting pressure through these joints and muscles provides feedback to the child’s brain and builds important developmental skills. Yoga also includes several balance poses. These poses can be adapted so they are fun for children, such as pretending they are a tree swaying in the wind, a kitten with one paw lifted, or an egg rocking on the edge of a table. These yoga poses that feel like pretend play to children are actually really helpful in building strength and equilibrium. Because of the core strengthening and pressure through the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hands, fine motor skills will improve and it doesn’t take long for improvements to be noticeable.
Children who participated in just ten days of yoga scored better on gross motor and fine motor activities which can help with athletics, handwriting, and scissor skills. With improvements in skills occurring in such a short period of time, yoga lends itself perfectly to short-term preschool programs, camps, and kindergarten readiness programs. The positive effects of yoga carry over to school-age children as well. Evidence shows that yoga helps with hand steadiness, letter writing, and motor planning in school-age and preschool children.
Although yoga is great with just one or two children, it also lends itself really well to a large group because children can model off each other and even perform some of the poses with a partner, such as making their bodies look like letters or numbers, or holding hands while balancing. Yoga is also highly adaptable for different skill levels, abilities, and ages. Poses can easily be modified if a child has a delay or special needs, and the poses can be graded to more challenging for older, more advanced children. The traditional poses of yoga can be completely adapted to make yoga a more engaging experience for young children. Poses can be transformed into animals, shapes, and letters, boosting children’s creativity and imagination while simultaneously building motor skills. It may just seem like fun for them to crawl around like a puppy or stomp their feet like an elephant, but the joint compression of the crawling and heavy steps of the elephant improve children’s motor skills, balance, and core stability, not to mention it can be so much fun!
As academic demands continue to grow, budget constraints limit access to safe playgrounds, and children are spending more time on technology, yoga is a great way to get children out of their chairs and provide them with some healthy movement each and every day.