With the right mindset and a bit of preparation, teaching kids’ Yoga classes can be a wonderful, meaningful experience. Not only do you get to share your love of Yoga with eager young pupils, but you’ll also have more fun than you’ve ever had in the classroom.
To get the most out of teaching kids’ Yoga classes, you need to go in with a proper plan. Teaching kids is a lot different from instructing adults. Attention spans are lower and energy levels are higher. You’ll be expected to let loose and act a bit like a kid yourself. All this can be overwhelming for someone who’s inexperienced with kids.
Luckily, instructing children isn’t some innate ability that you’re either born with or not. You most certainly can learn to become an excellent kids’ teacher. Here are some basic ideas that you can use to get started. From there, it’s just a matter of time and practice until you’re running excellent children’s sessions.
Plan Age-Appropriate Classes
First things first, it’s important to remember that teaching kids’ Yoga classes is a skill that is entirely different from teaching adult sessions. You can’t simply make your voice a bit sweeter and then offer the same material to children that you would present to adults. From top to bottom, your kids’ classes need to be constructed with the age of your students in mind.
Kids of different ages will have their own needs in the classroom. That’s why it’s always best to arrange classes for specific age groups. Some kids’ yoga classes are designed for children as young as two. These types of classes should put an overwhelming focus on fun and include just a few super simple poses. Classes for elementary or middle school kids can get a bit more serious and include more complicated activities.
If you end up teaching a class with a wide range of ages, then you’ll have to get a bit more flexible. Be prepared to have some older students move on to more complicated poses while the tots are still playing around. You can usually overcome age discrepancies by making everything as fun and exciting as possible. Also, it’s important to focus on effort, not results.
Keep it Simple
Conveying complicated instructions is difficult enough with adults, but it can become downright impossible when kids are involved. If you try to lead your youngest pupils through intricate sequences with difficult poses, you’re only going to cause unnecessary levels of frustration.
Your goal as a kids’ Yoga teacher isn’t to produce excellent young practitioners. In fact, it doesn’t really matter whether or not they master any poses. Your main objective is to present yoga as a meaningful and exciting activity. The best way to do this is by making the classes as simple and enjoyable as possible.
When deciding between poses for a children’s sequence, the more basic option is almost always the better choice. When determining how many poses to include, you’re usually better off going with less. Keeping things simple and basic will make it easier to run a successful, organized class.
Build Lots of Flexibility Into the Program
Teaching kids’ Yoga classes is unpredictable, and you need to take this into account when planning your classes. You never know when one of your students will dash off for the bathroom, pick a fight with a classmate, or fall into a fit of uncontrollable giggles. All this could interrupt a tightly planned sequence, which is why you’re better off planning for flexibility.
It’s also tough to predict which activities will be a major hit. If your students can’t get enough of a game or dance that was only supposed to serve as a warm-up, it might make sense just to let them keep playing. A good teacher knows to ditch the lesson plan when they see magic happening.
Make It Fun
This is perhaps the single most important rule of teaching kids’ Yoga classes. The success of the entire class is almost entirely dependent on whether the kids are having a good time. When boredom descends on a kids’ classroom, misbehavior, frustration, and general pandemonium are almost always quick to follow.
Every aspect of your teaching should be meant to prioritize fun. Incorporate dances, songs, and games into every session. Create contests with fun or silly prizes for the winners. Make goofy faces and give the kids the chance to be themselves. It’s by making the students look forward to their classes that you’ll inspire a lifelong interest in Yoga.
Keep Your Own Energy Levels as High as Possible
Kids’ Yoga classes require an upbeat, enthusiastic instructor. Long-winded explanations and serious responses to questions will just put the children to sleep. You’ll only manage to keep the kids’ attention if you match their boundless energy.
This might seem a tall order for teachers who are introverted or relaxed by nature. Luckily, it’s possible to fill the role of an energetic kids’ teacher even if you’re not exactly peppy in your everyday life. This is definitely a case that calls for “faking it until you make it.” In a way, teaching is like acting. You’re playing a role every time you get in front of the class. It might seem strange at first, but after a while you’ll learn to really get into it.
Set Some Basic Ground Rules
When teaching kids’ Yoga classes the atmosphere should be a free, open environment where kids have the ability to be the truest versions of themselves. With that being said, a few basic ground rules are necessary to give the class at least a semblance of organization. By laying these rules out at the very first class and harkening back to them throughout the course, you can make it clear to the students what’s expected of them.
There’s no need to be a drill sergeant here. Rules should only cover whatever is necessary to allow you to successfully conduct the class. Respecting classmates, avoiding physical violence, and listening when the teacher is talking should be the main points of focus.
Always Stay Patient
Kids are often rambunctious, obstinate, and difficult to manage. They won’t always understand what you’re telling them, and they might not listen to you even when they do. All this requires the type of patience that your Yoga practice has been preparing you for all along.
You’ll have an easier time handling your classes when you go into the experience knowing the kids will give you a hard time. Remember that the class is only a small part of your day, and you’ll be able to relax and put your feet up soon enough. As you show your students patience and get them to have some fun, they’ll listen to you more and make your life a little less difficult.
Give Varied Positive Feedback
While all students need occasional praise to keep them motivated, positive feedback is especially important when you’re working with kids. You’re the adult in the room, and your opinion means the world to the kids even if they’re too shy to show it. They’ll likely struggle with the poses and breathing exercises, and they’ll need your encouragement to keep them going.
Try to vary your praise as much as possible. A simple “good job” loses its meaning after weeks of overuse. Point out specific things your students are doing well, and always use an enthusiastic tone. High fives and fist bumps are also popular with kids.
Finish Class With a Shavasana Meditation Script
Even young children can reap major benefits from Shavasana. Just remember that any meditation scripts should be geared toward the specific age group you have in the classroom. Themes like friendship, kindness, and chasing dreams are all great for inspiring young minds.
As with every part of the class, make sure you keep the meditation sessions short. A brief script that holds the students’ attention is much more impactful than a longer script that sends their minds wandering halfway through.
Give Yourself Time to Improve as a Teacher
While it’s vital to stay patient with your young students, it’s just as important that you show some patience with yourself. Teaching kids’ yoga is a difficult task, and nobody excels at it their very first time. You’re likely to return from your first class wishing you had done a better job. This is completely normal. The key is to accept your mistakes and learn from them. Make a mental note of what could have been better, then think about how you could make improvements for the next class. After just a few sessions, you should have found your rhythm.
If you’re crazy about Yoga yourself, then there’s nothing more exciting than passing this passion on to younger generations. Teaching kids’ Yoga classes is a great way to make a difference in the lives of impressionable children. As long as you keep the classes lighthearted and entertaining, you’re bound to see little smiles flashing around the room. It’s that youthful joy that makes teaching kids’ Yoga classes such a special, fulfilling experience.
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