Yoga for Kids: Fun Animal Brain-Building Activities
Check out our activities and even more brain-boosting learning games for kids at the Inspired Treehouse.
If you have kids like mine, especially boys, I quickly found out that I couldn’t even mention the words “super heroes” or “Star Wars” without them going crazy. When my son was young and I needed him to focus on homework or on completing a certain task, I would completely avoid saying anything about Spiderman, Batman or Ninja Turtles (we even had to hide his figurines) because instantly he would be bouncing and hopping everywhere around our house with his plastic sword fighting off all the bad guys. And the garbage I asked him to take out? Or the math homework we were trying to finish? Forget it, I had already lost him the moment I mentioned one of the super heroes’ names.
However, I did try every possible way to tie learning and homework to his super hero action figures because it seemed to engage him and helped him focus more on the subjects he was learning in school. At the time, I didn’t realize I was already on the right track. As I began working more and more with kids who had learning challenges, I couldn’t believe the difference physical movement and physical literacy made to their learning ability in the classroom. Surprisingly enough, climbing like Spiderman was one of the answers I had been looking for to help more kids reach their potential.
Now we do all sorts of fun animal exercises and super hero exercises (or yoga) with our kids to improve their balance and coordination skills for higher learning. Yoga for kids is becoming more and more popular because of the wonderful brain building benefits that come with developing a child’s gross motor skills that help with attention and focus. It’s amazing how it all ties together to helping kids sit still in class, process what the teacher says, focus on a test or story, and can even organize the brain for problem solving.
But, before we talk about some of the fun animal exercise to try at home, let’s talk about why these exercises are important and how it will make a difference when your child is in school.
Any type of exercise is great for the brain, but because cognitive development relates to speech, language, problem solving, reading and writing, the animal poses target special areas to help organize the brain and the body for learning these concepts with their teacher and at home. It is also great for physical literacy and executive functioning within the brain.
Have you ever gone to the gym to run out your frustration on the treadmill after a hard day at work, or maybe took a boxing class to get out some pent up anger? If you have, you know how much physical activity can release some of that pent up frustration and energy you may experience after a hard day. Your child’s emotional state is no different. If they experience anxiety, anger, attention issues or sensory sensitivity to tags, loud noises and bright light, these types of exercises can calm those symptoms. This is especially important when it comes time for test taking.
Gross and Fine Motor
Learning to control your physical movement as well as strengthening your core develops a child’s gross motor skills. What does physical activity have to do with learning? As children learn to control the movements of their arms, legs and torso, they eventually learn how to control what happens in the classroom. They can sit still in their chair, they can process the instructions the teacher gave them, and they can hold their pencil correctly when writing. That is why children who struggle in school tend to be less coordinated, especially in sports, or may be clumsy on the playground. Like our bodies, the brain is also a muscle that needs to be “toned” and refined to focus and attend.
Now that you know some of the benefits, here are some of the fun animal exercises you can do at home. To capture the full experience, check out the video below.
Tip: Remember to have your child try all three activities as a horse (trot, gallop and shuffle). Even though they have slight differences, they are all developing those muscles in the legs for better coordination. You’ll want them to try it first on the right foot and then switch to the left. Strengthening both sides of the body is very important.
The Worm Crawl
Tip: Have your child start on their tummy and then come up on their hands and legs in an arched position just like a worm when it moves. Once they create an arch have your child bring their legs in close to their chest almost as if they are in a ball. Then have them work their way out to their tummy again and do the exercise multiples times across the room. It should be one continuous flow of movement just like a friendly earth worm.
Tip: This exercise should look just like Spiderman when he is climbing the walls. Help your child move across the room just like a spider alternating both feet and arms. This is a great activity for getting both the right and left sides of the brain to work together for their vestibular and auditory systems.
Have a fun time!
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs