As the summer draws to a close, a new school year awaits, filled with excitement and freshly sharpened pencils.
But for many kiddos, the transition back to school can also bring sharp feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.
To help our students ease back into the academic year with confidence and positivity, try teaching a back to school themed yoga class that can empower them to take a look at those feelings and navigate them successfully.
This article will walk you through a fun kids’ yoga class, centered around “Empowering Us for Back to School Success,” which can help lay the foundation for focus, balance, and self-assurance in the days or weeks leading up to the first day back at school.
The Power of Yoga in Preparing for Back to School Success
Yoga is not just a physical exercise; it is a holistic practice that nurtures the mind, body, and spirit.
When kids practice yoga, we aim to help them develop self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and resilience. These qualities become hugely beneficial as they navigate the challenges of a new school year.
Through a few well chosen yoga poses, breathing exercises, mindfulness activities, and a big dash of creativity, kids can develop the tools needed to conquer their fears of going back to school and approach learning with enthusiasm.
Here’s a yoga lesson plan outline for you to teach your kiddos as they prepare to go back to school.
Welcome and Grounding In
Every yoga journey begins with setting intentions, creating a safe space, and setting rules for boundaries.
In a kids’ yoga class, this is particularly important. Open your class with some “think and share” time about how each kiddo is feeling about going back to school.
You may get simple answers, and you may get more complex ones. But, this simple act of open communication helps students feel heard and acknowledged, and therefore safe.
Next, try some grounding exercises, such as deep breathing and visualization.
A community tree pose is perfect for this.
Circle up, and hold hands or press your palms together with the person next to you. Balance on one foot, letting your other foot rest on your ankle or calf. Support each other to stay balanced and steady.
Breathe deeply in and out as a group, continuing to support one another.
Ask the kids to imagine roots extending from their feet, connecting them to the earth, feeling rooted and stable—this a perfect metaphor for the solid foundation they need to face the school year confidently.
Yoga Flow Sun Salutation for Gratitude
After grounding in, get the kiddos moving into a Yoga Flow. Focus on gratitude and being in the present moment for this Flow.
Expressing appreciation for the opportunity to learn and grow fosters a positive mindset and instills a sense of excitement about the school year ahead.
Use positive, specific praise for kiddos to highlight their efforts in trying and doing their best. This helps to re-ignite the sense of Growth Mindset-knowing that wherever we currently are, we can continue to improve!
You can move more quickly through the Yoga Flow to keep the energy moving, or you can pause in a few specific moments to help kids feel the connection to the floor, to their breath, or to the space around them.
Breathing Activity for Mindfulness and Anxiety Reduction
Breathwork is a fundamental aspect of yoga that significantly impacts a child’s ability to focus and regulate emotions.
Start by naming a few times when kiddos might feel anxious or worried. Or, let them share a few examples!
Then, explain that one of the best things you can do to help alleviate some of these worries in the moment is to take a few deep breaths and re-connect your mind to your body to remember that you are safe and ok.
Try an easy “trace five” breath, “blowing out candles” or “smell and blow on the flower” as visuals for some deep breathing exercises.
Focus Poses for Concentration
School demands concentration, and yoga has tons of poses that will help kids do just that. Warrior 2, Tiger Pose, and Triangle pose are great examples that need a little extra focus to get them just right.
With each of these poses, give clear and short directions. Bring their attention to each body part so they know what to do. Make sure to do both sides, to help balance their strength, and coordination.
This focused attention on their body will improve concentration and you can praise them immediately to help them remember what that focus feels like.
Balance Poses for Centering
Balancing poses, like Eagle Pose and Warrior 3, teach kids about equilibrium and finding their center.
Balancing postures require both physical stability and mental composure, which are vital qualities for navigating the ups and downs of school life.
Teaching balance poses to kids can be a step by step process:
- First, bring your awareness to your feet. Notice how they are connected to the floor, and spread your toes out to help keep the foundation strong.
- Next, bring one foot up to balance (or move it back depending on the pose). Focus on moving slowly so you don’t propel yourself out of balance right away.
- Finally, make sure to keep your eyes looking at one thing that is not moving. Focusing your eyes on something will help keep you steady and balanced longer.
They will be amazed when this works!
As the kiddos explore these poses, be sure to talk about their adaptability and resilience.
Remind them that balance is not about perfection but embracing the process of finding balance. That in every situation we do this, we are building a growth mindset.
Fun Yoga Games for Concentration and Stamina
Yoga games infuse joy and laughter into the class while honing valuable skills in mindfulness focus and stamina.
“Yogi Says” is a variant of the classic Simon Says game, using yoga poses and movements as instructions:
This game encourages focus, memory, and stamina as kids follow instructions and try not to get the directions wrong.
“Earth Sea Sky” is a great game that builds focus:
No yoga poses needed, but you have to keep paying attention and build your mindfulness skills. One person in the middle holds a ball, and then throws it to someone who is standing in the circle around them.
As they throw, they say either “Earth,” “Sea,” or “Sky.” Whoever they throw it to has to catch the ball and respond with a thing that can be found in that category (i.e. lion, dolphin, or airplane), and quickly throw the ball back.
As you get faster it is more challenging and fun! Add in rules like “no repeats” to make it even harder.
Around the World Yoga is a fun, competitive activity that helps kids test their memory of yoga poses:
With all the mats in a circle, one student brings their mat to the middle, right next to someone else’s mat. Those two students stand and are ready to do a pose.
The teacher calls out a random pose, and whoever of the two standing does the pose correctly first, is the winner.
The winner then moves the inside mat to the next student, continuing “around the world” until someone else wins and replaces them.
Cool Down Kids Yoga Activity
After moving and playing exciting games, it’s essential to guide kiddos through a cool-down sequence. Be intentional with your directions as you guide them more slowly through some relaxing stretches.
Isolate their attention to a single body part, to their breath, and to the feeling of their muscles to help continue the theme of focused concentration.
Then, be sure to discuss the significance of winding down after periods of activity. Let them know that it’s important to try to find moments of calm and reflection throughout their school day.
Vision Boards for Building Excitement about School
If you have time, engaging in a creative craft activity adds an exciting element to your yoga class.
In order to help them feel excitement about school, let them create vision boards or drawings that represent their goals for the new school year.
Use some fresh markers and crayons to decorate a poster. Cut images out of a magazine, or use an instant sticker printer to provide them with some fun images and motivational phrases.
Encourage them to include positive affirmations and images that motivate them helps reinforce a growth mindset.
Motivational Painted Stones
Worry stones are maybe the wrong term, but “positive guidance rocks” doesn’t really roll off the tongue quite the same. No matter what you call them, these painted rocks with some positive words of encouragement are a great craft to do with your students.
Once they are dried and complete, they can take the stones to school with them and place them in their desk, or keep them on their bedside table for an early morning reminder of all they can accomplish.
Relaxation and Guided Meditation
Always end your kids’ yoga class with some relaxation and guided meditation. Talk them through a calming meditation, encouraging them to imagine themselves confidently embracing the new school year, making friends, and enjoying learning adventures.
The guided meditation aims to alleviate any back-to-school anxiety, helping students feel more at ease and empowered for the challenges ahead.
Wrapping Up Your Back to School Yoga Class
To finish up your back to school kids yoga class, give the kids one more chance to share their thoughts. Invite each child to share one thing they are excited about for the new school year, or one thing they are looking forward to.
By integrating yoga into the lives of children, we can give them the tools to thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally. Empowering young minds for back-to-school success through yoga creates a strong foundation for the academic year ahead, fostering focus, balance, and confidence in their unique abilities.
As kids get back into the classroom with enthusiasm and courage, they are ready to embrace learning as a joyful adventure, to explore and grow with every step they take.