Benefits of Yoga with Young Children and How it Correlates with a Montessori Curriculum
Teaching young children yoga has many benefits such as helps children to relax, relieve stress and anxiety, sleep better, improves emotional regulation, increases empathy, and improves moods; but practicing Yoga with young children can also teach them mindfulness, and many other benefits that the Montessori methodology correlates with as well. Both Yoga and the Montessori methodology:
Improves Memory, Concentration, and Cognitive Functioning
Yoga helps to improve memory and cognitive function by creating focus within the mind and body; and requires concentration of both. When practicing yoga, one has to pay attention to the movement of the body and how breathing coordinates with those movements. Balancing poses in Yoga require that you concentrate more, and aides in improving concentration. When practice yoga, one is essentially practicing the ability to focus on the task at hand, which translates to better focus and cognitive functioning at school, which in turn leads to improved academic achievement.
In the Montessori methodology, children are taught how to be mindful in their day to day activities. Mindfulness is defined as a deep, in-the-moment focus, which is characterized by self-awareness and internal motivation. When children begin Montessori education as early as 3 years old, they work on motor-skills activities such as sweeping, polishing silverware, and pouring. These activities are named “Practical Life” activities which prepare kids for greater independence and self-reliance in daily tasks. “Practical Life” activities help the development of higher cognitive functions essential to concentration, attention, and even coordination. Montessori’s approach to motor development can actually stimulate cognitive development and deep concentration.
Improves Social Relationships
Yoga helps to improve and increase self-esteem, confidence, and empathy within kids, which leads to more positive social relationships with others. Yoga also has partner poses that can teach dependence on another person to compete the pose.
In the Montessori methodology, kids learn shared concentration by encouraging them to engage in tasks with a classmate or two which is a critical skill in the age of teamwork. Working in twos and threes promotes mentoring and knowledge transfer; children share their enthusiasm for a task and build up the confidence of younger students. Montessori groups children of different ages together in the same learning environments, which is intended to foster peer-to-peer learning. This arrangement can naturally lead to growth that might not occur in a more traditionally aged classroom, and with these mixed-aged groups, it allows for children to learn from one another, teach one another and develop life skills such as inclusion and acceptance
Yoga helps to improve independence with the idea of practice makes perfect. By practicing common poses, children develop the knowledge of the form the body must take to perform a certain pose which allows independence. It is important that kids learn how to be independent and cope on their own while they have the support and guidance from those around them.
In the Montessori methodology, Montessori schools incorporate concrete learning goals into the educational plan, which allows the child independence and the freedom to choose when and how to complete their work within a specified timeframe. “That act of choosing is what allows a child to become independent and make a wholehearted commitment to their work.