Sunday, 11 May 2014

My first class at Nipsula, HAMK University: Yoga for Pre-schoolers

Every Wednesday I teach at Nipsula, a preventive social work programme for pre-schoolers at HAMK University.  There are about twenty children who attend with their parents and there is a wide range of ages, from five months to five years.  Parents must stay with their children during these sessions. 

Even though children don't start school in Finland until they are seven (and Gove wants to introduce testing in schools in England from two years old!!!) most children attend for a pre-school year from six years old.

Nipsula was set up to allow undergraduate nursing and social work students at HAMK to observe child development and develop teaching skills.

Last Wednesday was my turn to lead a session so I decided to teach some pre-school yoga.  This was definitely a challenge because of the broad age range and the fact I attempted to teach in Finnish!

It went really well though and I think the children really enjoyed it!  I taught six poses and tried to make it as fun as possible using fun music and a storytelling session.  Later in the session I used a poster that Malika had helped me design, to get the children to teach each other their favourite asanas.
This worked really well and the children loved teaching each other.

The aeroplane pose is quite a challenging pose so feel free to adapt it by letting the children simply stretch their arms or alternatively set up the room so the children can use props and hold onto something...

Not all the parents had given consent for child photos so I have used my guinea pigs, I mean daughters, to demonstrate that it is possible to teach yoga to an 18 month old baby and four year old child at the same time.

Feel free to use the lesson plan that I have posted below and remember to breathe, this is supposed to be fun!

The room set-up....We started by gathering around the globe and searching for India as well as Finland....we gathered at the front later for the story telling session....

As I taught each asana we projected a picture of each pose from the yoga book, My Daddy is a Pretzel, to reinforce the learning...

I love trying to incorporate the globe into my lessons....the children loved this also...

The kids loved choosing their favourite pose from this poster and then teaching each other....Perhaps you could vary the lesson plan by getting the children to draw their own posters.

An excellent book from the excellent publisher, Barefoot Books (google them!)

OK here is the lesson plan I devised...



Arrange mats in a circle on the floor.  Window will be open prior to session and lavender oil will be sprayed.

·         Introduce topic by showing globe.  Point out India.  This is the home of Yoga and people greet each other by putting hands in front of chest in prayer position (demo) and saying Namaste.  (This may sound really cheesy but the parents loved it!)

Put on Yoga Asana CD


·         Lead children in basic stretches to warm up the body….ankle rolls/ arm and hand rolls etc.  This will occur while seated on floor and standing.

While sitting on the mat we will practice some breathing exercises.  “Blow out the candles” / “Smell the flowers”

Storytelling session

·         I will read the book “My Daddy is a Pretzel” and concentrate on six asanas. 

·         1) Tree Pose

·         2) Dog Pose

·         3) Triangle Pose

·         4) Lion Pose

·         5) Aeroplane Pose

·         6) Pretzel Pose
(In Finland it is quite easy to teach a bilingual class at this stage...try it!  It is easy to introduce some Sanskrit at this stage...)
Following the story I will display yoga poster and each child can come and pick their favourite pose while the rest of the class copies.

The class will end with a relaxation session.  I will put on dolphin CD, ask the children to snuggle under blanket and spray more "lavender rain".  This will last three minutes. 
Ok so photographic proof from my guinea pigs aka Malika and Ameenahxx
The tree pose (puu asunto in Finnish!)
Lion pose (Leijona asunto in finnish)

Triangle pose (Trikosana in Sanskrit!)

Malika AND Ameenah in dog pose (koira asunto - Finnish)

really nice Pretzel pose!

Ok if you need to read some research here are a couple of links...Evidence based practice is a must in social work so I always try to back up lessons with up to date credible academic research

Here is a link to a literature review of yoga for pre-school research.  I will try to post PDF tomorrowxx

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