At the end of January, I started a new after-school yoga class for 3rd-5th graders. I love all my students and classes, but I especially love when a group just comes together so smoothly and are really supportive of each other. I have a great mix of girls and boys, beginners and more experienced yoginis - and all of them are excited to take risks and try new things. Excellent!
The first three classes focused on: 1) the fundamentals of various types of poses (twists, balancing, backbends, etc.); 2) Warriors; and 3) Shoulder Openers. The latter two were requests from students. One named Warriors as his favorite poses. Shoulder Openers came from multiple requests to try Forearm Balance. I have a few gymnasts in my class, and they have seen me do the pose, so they are eager to give it a go. However, I am pretty adamant that they only try the pose with my support. That said, every kid in my class was so excited to get upside down and feel successful in Forearm Balance even if they needed maximum support and got up just a small bit. This class also provided a great opportunity to discuss the importance of warming up and preparing for more challenging poses before jumping into them.
I am excited this term too as I think I have finally figured out how to really set the kids up for success and also how to set MYSELF up for success. At the beginning of each class I quickly go through the routine so it is very clear what is expected of the kids. We spent some time during the Intro class talking about what Savasana looks like and practiced it, so now they get into it easily with minimal fuss. We always open with a great connection activity - either connecting to ourselves (i.e. Mindful Listening) or to each other (i.e. building a Gratitude Web). The kids really seemed to like the Gratitude Web and asked for it again the next week, and also have spontaneously asked to share things they are grateful for before we get into the physical practice. They know that we always open with Sun Breaths and we always close with LovingKindness. Just by simply setting up the routine and clearly explaining the expectations has greatly reduced any management challenges I have had in the past. This little bit of organisation has changed how I plan, as well as how much more I can focus on the FUN of the class and not as much on class management. Who knew...? :)