Honolulu (KHON2) – Our look at early education with Kamehameha Schools shows how yoga is being used creatively to engage preschoolers with poses in and out of the classroom.
Miki Carvalho-Mattos,Teaching Assistant for Kamehameha Preschool – Waimānalo explained the benefits, saying, “It is a way to exercise and improve balance and gross motor skills. It can increase attention and create a calming effect which may lead to improved cognitive function and self-regulation, but most of all, it is a lot of fun!”
Carvalho-Mattos has been using yoga for almost 4 years in her preschool classroom. It is integrated into the daily schedule.
“We may do a breathing exercise before snack, a yoga sequence to retell a favorite story and some stretches during outdoor play,” shares Carvalho-Mattos. “It becomes a normal part of our daily routine and the children and families enjoy it. The children will ask to do favorite poses and will lead the class in yoga by modeling or being an alakaʻi. They will practice it on their own at home and teach yoga poses to their parents and other family members. Childrenʻs yoga is a way for me to connect to my students, sometimes we are calm, sometimes we are energetic and silly, it really helps the keiki feel a sense of accomplishment, because everyone can do keiki yoga- there is no wrong way.”
In a preschool classroom, simple yoga poses and breathing techniques are used to not only help children focus and calm their bodies, but also to tell stories, teach concepts, Hawaiian language and follow directions. This yoga sequence teaches keiki about the three main land divisions in our ahupua`a, the yoga poses represent the mountains or uka, the open land or kula and the ocean or kai. It is an interactive way to teach this very important lesson.
She also recommends that families do it together at home with a yoga mat or a towel on the ground. There are a lot of free resources online available that families can use to do yoga at home. Youtube has some easy to follow along videos.