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Today is International Yoga Day – a wonderful opportunity to ground ourselves, move our bodies in intentional ways, and introduce young children to the world of mindfulness. While today may serve as a reminder to be mindful, the best outcomes will come from integrating mindfulness opportunities into children’s everyday routines.
Mindfulness is all about focusing your awareness on the present moment. When practiced regularly, it can help us learn to manage stress, anxiety, and other challenging emotions. Practicing mindfulness with children teaches them regulation techniques like being aware of and controlling their breathing, which can have a calming effect on both the body and mind.
When children are given the tools to connect with and manage their emotions, they are better able to cope in the face of frustration and challenges, leading to increased perseverance, resilience, and self-esteem. Practicing mindfulness regularly in regulated moments gives children a strategy to reach for when they are experiencing heightened emotions, making it easier for them to calm down when executive function and learning may be more difficult.
ECSEL is an acronym that stands for Emotional, Cognitive, and Social Early Learning. The ECSEL approach aims to help children develop the skills of emotional intelligence and self-regulation, and prosocial behaviors through learning how to identify, understand, express, and regulate their own emotions and those of others.
Mindfulness is an important part of the ECSEL approach, as it can help children to better connect with, understand, and manage their emotions, making it easier for them to self-regulate and deal with stress. Through the begin to ECSEL training program, educators learn to utilize and weave mindfulness and social-emotional strategies and activities into everyday learning opportunities.
When teaching young children something new, it can be beneficial to pull from what they already know and what they are interested in. Observe their interests as they play and ask questions to find out more about what they already know to activate their prior knowledge.
Then, combine mindfulness techniques with these interests to make learning more meaningful! Here are some examples:
ABC Breathing (Toddlers)
This activity begins with reading Breathe Baby Breathe An ABC Guide to Mindfulness by Amanda Lynch and asking children guiding questions to help them better understand their emotions, how to breathe, and how yoga can help calm their bodies and minds. Practice the mindfulness activities on each page with children to give them real-life regulation strategies! Find the full activity here.
Rainforest Yoga (Preschool)
This rainforest animal-themed yoga activity taps into children’s interests while teaching them to move mindfully and connect to their bodies and breathing. Play rainforest sounds to set the tone, turn off the lights, and guide children through the different poses. Check-in with children’s feelings throughout the activity to support their growing emotional intelligence! Find the full activity here.
Animal Tracks: Painting with Our Feet (Infant)
This sensorimotor activity supports the development of many important skills for your littlest learners. Support children in walking through paint on paper to put a creative and sensory twist on gross motor development while teaching them about different animal tracks! Find the full activity here.
Do you have a favorite mindfulness activity? Comment below⬇️!
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