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Preschool Yoga and English teaching

Updated: Jun 12


Yesterday I returned to work at the preschool where I teach three lessons to children ages three to six every Wednesday morning. During the emergency declaration in effect in the Tokyo area the preschool was open for the children of parents who had to go into work, but nonessential activities, including the English yoga lesson I instruct, were put on hold.

Since the new school year began in April, it was my first time to meet the group of three-year-olds I’m now instructing. I’ve been working with some of the five- and six-year-olds now for more than two years.

I continue to be astounded by the progress that several of the students I’ve now taught for a long time have made in English, important physical skills, for example, balancing on one leg, spatial awareness, core strength, and posture, and overall behavior and attitude.

In case you're interested in incorporating some elements of yoga in the English language lessons you teach to young learners, I’ve provided sample lesson outlines (from the lessons I taught yesterday) for your reference.

Lesson #1: Introduction to English Yoga (age: three years-old)

Objectives:

(1) Accustom children to the basic rules of the class, most importantly, staying on their mats.

(2) Familiarize students with songs and phrases that I often use in children's lessons.

(3) Create a fun, playful environment.

Warming up: "Hi, how are you?" song with gestures.

Teaching point #1: Stand up/Sit down. Repeat several times, fast and slow. (NOTE: Varying tempo and rhythm is a great way to keep little kids engaged.)

Teaching point #2: Sunny/Rainy/Cloudy. This is a kind of basic sun salutation using weather patterns to name the postures.

Song: Months of the Year, with flashcards for each month. This is part of the warm-up for every class.

Song: Head and shoulders. Repeat fast and slow. This is part of the warm-up for every class.

Teaching point #2: Cat pose, dog pose with puppets. Children love to touch the puppets, so I allow time for that.

Cool down and final rest:

The cat and dog puppets "go to sleep" in my bag, and I guide the children to lie down on their mats to rest. They wake up to the sound of a singing bowl and return to sitting. I ask them to mimic good posture (a long spine) and guide them in a simple breath-linked movement pattern, gesturing to breathe in through the nose and out, audibly, through the mouth. We finish with prayer in front of the heart and the words, "Thank you." At the end of the lesson, they line up to hand me their name tags.

Lesson #2: What do you see? I see … (two classes, four- to five-year- olds, five- to six-year-olds)

Objectives:

(1) Provide a safe environment for children after longer than a two-month break from English yoga.

(2) Review patterns we were working on before the break, including the question, “What do you see?” and response, “I see…”

(3) Practice balance poses and poses that enhance spatial awareness.

(4) For the older children, engage in conversation practice, including question and response.

Warming up:

(a) "Hi, how are you?" song with gestures. To match the mood of the class, I changed “fine” to “hot” and “tired” in parts and also the tone I used for the word “fine.”

(b) Months of the year song.

(c) “Here we go loop-de-loo” song with different body parts. “Toes” led to a toe wiggling activity.

Teaching point: What do you see? I see a cat/dog. This was instructed with the cat and dog puppets. We also practiced cat and dog poses, including lifting one leg up in dog pose.

Book: We read “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” with specific focus on:

(a) Reviewing all of the colors. The older children were able to express their favorite color to the entire class: “I like …”

(b) Balancing games, including counting how long we could stand on one foot in “Red bird” pose and counting the number of jumps in “Green frog” pose.

(c) Remembering the colors and the names of the animals at the end. Several students naturally remembered that the “color” word precedes the “animal” word.

Review the teaching point with puppets:

The advanced class was able to use new animal puppets, including for words they are already familiar with, such as “snake,” “elephant,” and “monkey,” to ask and respond to the question, “What do you see?” with different words. I believe this kind of activity inspires creative adaptation of language to different concepts.

Cool down and final rest:

The puppets "go to sleep" in my bag, and I guide the children to lie down on their mats to rest. They wake up to the sound of a chime and return to sitting. I ask them to mimic good posture (a long spine) and guide them in a simple breath-linked movement pattern, gesturing to breathe in through the nose and out, audibly, through the mouth. We finish with prayer in front of the heart and the words, "Thank you." At the end of the lesson, they line up to hand me their name tags. The older children then wipe the mats.

If you are interested in learning more about teaching English and yoga together, send me a message or write a comment below. Thanks for reading!


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