Managing a Children's Yoga Class
Are you grappling with effective classroom engagement within your children’s yoga classes? Then read on for inspiration and ideas. By Bryony Duckitt
Reading time: 3 minutes
You’ve done the training, learnt the poses, perfected your lesson plan, ready to go … and then the children arrive. They’re chatty, unable to focus, running around, not listening, and getting their attention seems impossible. You are not alone! It is completely normal to have times when things go a little awry and the carefully-crafted lesson plan flies out the window.
When children are seeking attention, whether positive or negative, a mantra I always come back to is: “All behaviour is communication.” Then breathe deeply, come back to centre, reassess the situation and find ways to engage the children in order to manage the challenging behaviour. Sometimes a few subtle changes can make a huge difference, both to the experience of your students, as well as your own confidence as a teacher.
Here are some some techniques to help:
- Enter your classroom/space in a mindful way. Try to be aware of any of your own personal challenges or anxieties before greeting the children. Leave these at the door and be fully present to hold space for your students. They are little empaths who will often feed off the energy you are carrying.
- Consistency is key. Gently remind the children of the ‘golden guidelines’ at the beginning of class, or have them illustrated in a visual manner. Co-creating these guidelines for acceptable behaviour will go a long way in gaining their ‘buy-in’. Always follow through and avoid empty promises. Truth creates trust. Consequences are important and sometimes we need to be firm to be kind. Children feel safer and more secure when there are boundaries.
- Create engaging and fun lesson plans but remember to be flexible in order to harness the energy of the children in the room. It’s important to meet them where they are, and work towards the goal in unison. Being too rigid will lead to frustrations across the board.
- There are many different teaching techniques and we need to be aware which ones we operate from in order to be able to see what works and what doesn’t within a group. When a class starts to become chatty or rowdy, level out your speaking voice to a low and soft place. The louder they become, the quieter you become. Try not to be reactive, as this simply escalates any situation. Sound can be a wonderful way to engage with the children, so be prepared for opportunities to sing or hum a tune to subtly and positively adjust the energy.
- Bringing breathwork into the class at regular intervals is paramount, to either energise or calm the space, depending on what is needed.
- Try to return to your yogic principles at all times, whilst acknowledging the positives in all situations, avoiding negative patterns of speech. Always try to model peace, love and a compassionate attitude, and hopefully they will follow. And when all else fails, just breathe and smile, and know the next class will be better!
Be prepared to be unprepared! This is an organic, symbiotic relationship which will move in different directions, depending on the ever-changing aspects at play on any particular day. The children will ultimately determine the current and direction, and it is our role as teachers to facilitate, not dominate. Finally, remember to enjoy the dance of the class interaction as you flow in and out of their different energy levels, with a clear image of your own engagement style. Be mindful, be kind and have fun!
Bryony Duckitt is the founder of YogaBeez Children’s Yoga (yogabeez.com)