With all the uncertainty in the world, our children require as much structure and predictability as possible. They also need positivity and peace. I’ve made the difficult decision to keep my son’s home for at least the first part of the school year and I understand that this can be stressful for them – they won’t be seeing their friends, they won’t be familiar with the new learning environment and format, etc.
In my ongoing training in mindfulness (for adults and children), I thought that I would implement some of these strategies with my boys to start their day on the right foot. This activity should not take more than 10 minutes, the first day being the most difficult as they will be learning different techniques and may need some more support and instruction.
- Standard index cards, preferably in different colours
- Labels or colourful permanent markers
- List of breathing exercises, yoga poses, and positive affirmations – I used resources purchased through www.kidsyogastories.com, but you can find free websites, such as https://copingskillsforkids.com/deep-breathing-exercises-for-kids. Positive affirmations can be created on your own or you can also find examples online (example: https://www.thepathway2success.com/101-positive-affirmations-for-kids/). Yoga poses can also be found free online (https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/yoga-for/kids)
- Yoga mat or carpeted floor
- I picked one colour for each type of exercise – a yellow deck for breathing, a orange deck for yoga poses, and a green deck for positive affirmations. I printed labels for each exercise and affirmation, but you can easily hand print them using colourful markers. On the other side of the card, write or print the directions on how to do each activity. For positive affirmations, you can write a definition or examples of the words used in the statement.
- Every week, have the children pick one card from each deck and practice them together. Repeat this practice daily. On the first day, the children may need more hands-on or role-modelling support. If you have a small space, you can do the yoga poses one at a time, with you demonstrating it first and have one child read the directions while you do it (if this is possible). You can then make sure that alignment or positioning is correct and your child is breathing throughout the pose.
- Post the cards somewhere visible as a reminder to the children through the week. I used a white board, but you can put them directly on a wall, or on the fridge, etc.
The hope is that by the end of the week, they will be “experts” in these skills and motivated to learn new ones the following week. Take the time to congratulate them when they complete these tasks successfully and encourage them to keep trying throughout the week.
This is just a small way that we can incorporate physical and mental wellness, self-regulation, and self-esteem with our children on a regular basis. Remember to have fun with this exercise, be creative and engage your children in all aspects of the activity!