5 activities to help kids concentrate
Are you finding your child's attention wondering off every 5 seconds? You are not alone! It is a strange time when parents are taking the place as the school teacher (for work they don't ever understand for some things) and the home environment where they are used to just playing and relaxing is now one where they have to focus for much longer than usual. When children go to school there are rules in place, expectations and a certain way of doing things. They know when they go they sit at their desk and it is time to work. The teacher is there to give their full attention to this learning experience, they are not trying to do another full time job, run around after a toddler or clean the house. It is completely different. So it is no wonder children are struggling to give school work the same focus.
1. The click and wink
This is a fun exercise for focus and gets both sides of the brain working. It is a great one to do before homework or when you need to concentrate on something.
Start by winking your left eye while you click your fingers on your right hand. Now wink your right eye while clicking your fingers on your left hand. Continue to switch back and forth at least ten times.
2. Colour your thoughts
Art is such a great way to express ourselves and also to calm us. Ask your child to sit for a moment and just bring an awareness to how they are feeling. With paper ready in front of them and pens or crayons of different colours ask them to use different colours to show how they are feeling. Allow them to express their thoughts however they feel called to do so. Letting everything come flowing out from their minds on to the page. There are no expectations for it to look like anything or be a certain way. There is no wrong way to do this.
3. Spoon Balancing
Did you ever play this as a child?
This is such a goofy game but it can really help us to focus. All you need is a teaspoon! See if you can balance the teaspoon on your nose. You could put it length ways on the bridge of your nose or you could try placing it vertically on the tip of your nose. Just find what works for you and how long you can balance it for. This takes focus, perseverance, balance, and a lot of giggles.
Toe-ga is a great way to calm down while having to use focus and concentration. Our toes are crammed in shoes a lot of the day (or at least before lockdown, in fairness my toes are mainly in slippers now) and this is a great way to stretch them out and release any tension.
All you need is some pom poms and a pot (cake tin, mixing bowl etc). Pour the pom poms into the middle and then everyone uses their feet to pick up the individual pom poms and place them into the pot/ bowl. I like to use different sizes to change things up. This is a great way to work those toe muscles in a gentle and fun way. It is simple, fun, and easy to clean up!
5. Yoga flow
Yoga has an amazing range of benefits including helping children to focus. A great tool to use throughout the day in small 5-15 minutes breaks. Yoga is a great way to help children focus as we are marrying our breath with movement. This doesn't have to be done in the same way as an adults class would go although it can be lovely for your little ones to join in if you have your own practice, but it can be more fun and playful. You can start with more energy such as games and fast movement and then wind it down with some relaxation and breathing. For more ideas check out my Book - Christmas yoga for children and their adult! This book is full of ideas, not just for Christmas and is free on kindle with membership!
Here is a short sequence to get you started! Take five to seven deep breaths in each pose.
There you have it
Five great ways to get a little mini break from work and chores and help children to focus. Please share this with other parents who's children may benefit from these small practices. It can make a big difference!
Would you like to see more posts like this one? Let me know what you enjoyed about it and what you will be trying!
Happy valentines day!
As a single mum, during a pandemic with no chance of lining up dates why not make the day a celebration of all the love we have at home. There is no better way to do this than spending quality time together, having fun! This is a great game because its one that you can play anytime. Love hearts are not just for valentines!
All you will need is some red card cut into love hearts (and in fairness you could use any colour) and a pen.
On each love heart, write down a different yoga pose.
Some Ideas for what to write
You may also like to add some high energy and exercise based ones in there such as
Now you are ready to play!
Put on your kids favourite music. Place the hearts on the ground with space between them. When the music is playing, everyone dances and moves around the room. When the music stops, everyone must stand on a heart. Stand statue still for three breaths. Together you look at what you are each standing on and complete the action. Yoga poses can be held until the music plays again.
To make it more interesting you could remove the hearts as you go on, maybe at random or ones that have been played. you decide! Have fun!
Let me know if you'll be trying this at home! This is such a fun way to get the family doing yoga together!
What are your plans for valentines day? Who will you be spending it with?
follow the leader
Sometimes the simplest games are the best one! This game can be done inside or outside, on yoga mats or around your space. I like to play this game by starting in a circle or with partners facing each other. You can include some yoga poses, some funny dances, jumping over things and so much more. Be sure to go first so that you can show them a few possibilities and then let everyone have a turn to be the leader. As it is halloween this week you could fit in some halloween themed poses such as
Zombie Walk (get creative)
Monster Breath (lions breath)
Witch on a broom (warrior 2)
Pumpkin (childs pose)
Spooky tree (tree pose)
creaky gate (gate pose)
flying witch (chair pose)
Vampire (mountain pose)
Bat (boat pose)
A nice twist on the classic. Yogi says an instruction and then the child or group do as Yogi says. If the instruction is given without ‘Yogi says’ at the beginning the children should not do the task. If they do, they must stand in mountain pose for three breaths before joining back in.
Here are some suggestions for Yogi Says…..
• Stand in tree pose
• Sit on the floor
• Do 5 jumping jacks
• Run on the spot
• Practice plank pose
• Show me a strong warrior pose
• Touch your toes
• Put your hands on your head
• Do a funny dance
• Stand on one leg
• Act like a froggy
You could also add some of the halloween themed poses mentioned previously.
You can practice some yoga poses that you have already worked with as well as new ones if you can demonstrate them first. By adding in some other fun things as well as just yoga poses, it keeps it fun and exciting as they really do not know what is coming next. You can also let the children have a turn at being yogi.
1,2,3 Spooky yoga tree
One person stands at one edge of the room, they are ‘it’, while the rest of the group/family starts at the opposite wall standing on one leg in the tree pose. If you are playing this game in a bigger space, just make a line to define the starting and finishing points. The person who is ‘it’ turns their back to the group and counts aloud “1, 2, 3 spooky yoga trees” and then quickly turns back to look at the group. When ‘it’ is not watching, the other children can move forward, but when ‘it’ turns around they must stand on one leg in the tree pose. If ‘it’ sees you standing on two legs or moving forward, they can call on you to go back to the wall (or starting point). Whoever gently touches ‘it’ first, becomes the next ‘it’. I like to add some spooky music to this one.
How can Yoga help?
Yoga can help with anxiety as it really allows us to be in the present moment. By focusing on moving the body with the breath and how each pose feels we are staying in the moment and quietening busy minds. It can be challenging to go straight into a mediation so yoga can be a really good tool to prepare ourselves for stillness. Yoga can also help to release built up tension from our bodies and align us energetically.
Cat / Cow
Start in a tabletop position (knees below hips, wrists below shoulders). Inhale and drop the belly down towards the mat as you look forward. Exhale round your spine, arching your back like a spooky Halloween cat and relax your head, looking towards your belly button. Inhale, move through back to your cow pose, lifting your heart, dropping the belly. Exhale back to your cat. Move with the breath here, repeating at least three to five times.
Start on all fours and then bring your hips back so that your arms are stretched out in front of you. Bring your forehead to rest on the mat or on a yoga block or bolster. Having the legs together will help to support your spine. This may not feel like a resting posture for everyone, so another option is to bring your big toes together and knees as wide as the mat and then fold forward, bringing the forehead towards the mat.
Begin standing with your feet together or hip width apart. On an exhale, bend your knees and fold forward bringing your belly against your thighs. Bring your hands to the ground and let your head hang heavy. You may like to work on straightening the legs in time. You can stay here for three to five breaths or for just one exhale as part of a flow.
Puppy Dog Pose
Begin on all fours, knees above hips. As you breath in walk your arms out in front of you and bring your chest towards the mat. You may like to have a yoga block underneath each forearm if that feels better. Rest your forehead on the mat keeping your legs exactly where they started. Breath here for three to five breaths.
Legs up the wall
This is a wonderful restorative pose that helps your body to relax and restore. Start by sitting sideways against a wall and then swing your legs around so that you are laying on your back with your legs up the wall. Doing it this way will help you to get your bottom as close to the wall as you can. Straighten your legs, resting your heels on the wall. Your arms can rest beside you or bring them to your belly. Anytime you need a break during this pose you can bring your legs into a butterfly position by bending your knees and bringing the soles of your feet together. The more you practice this pose the longer you will be able to stay in it for. Try staying in this pose for at least two minutes or longer if you feel you need to.
How is your child feeling about going back to school? Do they have at least one thing they are really looking forward to? These poses can be used before school, after school or any time you and your child has time. You could practice them all or just choose one or two for that day. Legs up the wall is one of our favorites before bed!
This is a beautiful meditation for children and teenagers that can be done at home. Adults can benefit just as much from this practice so feel free to set a timer and join in. So often people think the idea of meditation is to have no thoughts but actually trying to quieten the mind so that we can allow ourselves to hear our unheard thoughts can be very empowering.
To be able to direct these thoughts, we must first be aware of them. Bring an awareness to these thoughts without judgement, without labeling them good or bad. Each time a thought comes to your head return back to the number one so that you are not 'running away with the story'. One to two minutes is a good time frame for this exercise. You may choose to journal after or to talk to someone you trust about what came up for you.
Did you make it to ten?
When the clouds bring us rain, it can leave us pretty limited as to what to do at the moment. Sure we can still get out and enjoy nature but what if we feel like hiding out at home for some of it? How can we still stay active and avoid boredom?
With yoga of course!
Here are three games that we love to play at home rain or shine!
Toe-ga is a great way to calm down while having to use focus and concentration. Our toes are crammed in shoes all day and this is a great way to stretch them out and release any tension.
All you need is some pom poms and a pot (cake tin, mixing bowl etc). Pour the pom poms into the middle and then everyone uses their feet to pick up the individual pom poms and place them into the pot/ bowl. I like to use different sizes to change things up. This is a great way to work those toe muscles in a gentle and fun way. It is simple, fun and easy to clean up!
Follow the leader
Sometimes the simplest games are the best one! If there are 2 people playing, stand to face each other. If there are three or more, stand in a circle or pair up.
You can include some yoga poses, some funny dances, jumping over things and so much more. Be sure to go first so that you can show them a few possibilities and then let everyone have a turn to be the leader.
Rock, Paper, scissors
Start by asking the child / children what they think ‘rock’ would look like. We usually go for a pose that looks most like child’s pose or knees to chest. Then do the same for paper and scissors.
Get into partners if there are more than two of you. If there is an odd number, someone can play on the next round. Once in a partnership, stand back to back with one another. As you count one, take one step forward. Two, take another. Three, and another. Say ‘Draw’ and quickly get into your poses, either rock, paper, or scissors.
As we do not have winners and losers in our yoga practice instead, we focus on how we can join these poses together. We sometimes stack the rocks, scissor massage the rocks (chopping hand motion), join the scissors together by coming into a double boat kind of posture and so on. The possibilities are limited only to the imagination. Then we go again.
Free ABC YOGA CARD GAME
Another resource you may find useful is my free ABC Yoga Card deck download with pose guide and game ideas. You can find that here.
There! Three great yoga games that you can play at home! Will you be trying any of these games? Would you like to see more game ideas or have you got any that you would like to share with others? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
The Stream of thoughts
What is on our minds? Often a whole bunch of things. It can get very overwhelming. In this practice we look at slowing down. Letting go of our thoughts, even just for this moment, to come back to ourselves. We begin to notice feeling emotions, questions, sensations, worries and thoughts. Taking the time to do this can allow you to release nervous energy and of what is troubling you and allows you just to take the time to breath. This exercise is great for teenagers and adults. It can be practiced together or alone.
It can help to have someone guide you through this or you may like read this in full and then set yourself a timer of 10 to 15 minutes to practice this activity.
Take a cross legged position on the ground or sit up nice and tall on a chair. You may like to close your eyes, or take a soft gaze in front of you. As we start to still ourselves, we may notice a lot of thoughts running through our minds. Notice this, and then bring your attention to your breath.
Take five long, deep breaths to help calm and settle you into this moment.
Now imagine yourself sitting on a grassy hill, Maybe you are sat up against a tree or on a nice blanket. Feel the warmth of the sun shining down on you as you breath in that nice fresh air. Next to you is a stream. Notice how the water is flowing. Is it flowing quickly or slowly? Does it seem calm or hurried?
As you sit here, bring your awareness back to your thoughts. As a thought pops into your head, notice it. Notice if your body reacted to it in anyway. Notice if your breath changed at all. Now take this thought and place it on the stream. Watch as the flowing water takes it away, Do this as many times as you need to do. Some thoughts may be harder to let go, they may find their way back but just repeat the process.
Now bring your focus back to your breath. Can you keep it here or is there a thought that keeps popping up? Acknowledge it and send it down the stream.
When your timer goes off, take a few deep breaths, wiggle your fingers and your toes a few times and gently come back to the room.
You may choose to journal after your experience. Did any thoughts keep coming up? Had you been aware of them before? Is this something that you can ask for help with?
You can repeat this process as often as needed. Practicing regularly will help you to calm your mind for longer periods. It will also help you to check in with your body and mind and tap into the parasympathetic nervous system (a rest and digest state). We switch from worrying to nurturing our bodies systems for long term health including digestion, repair and immunity.
You may like to visit this blog on Self love, that inner critic and breaking out of comfort zones: Click Here
I love downward facing dog especially in kids yoga. The amount of times I see one and two years old children just naturally taking on this pose is amazing. In this post we look at the benefits of this pose, how to do it and how to make it fun!
SANSKRIT: ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA
Sanskrit is the language of yoga and is the language in which many historic yoga texts were written. We don't usually go into this in children's yoga but it is always nice to connect back to it's roots and learn about the history of a pose/practice.
How to Practice Downward Facing DOG
Start in a table top positions, on your hands and knees. Knees should be below hips and hands in line with shoulders. Walk the hands forward slightly, turn elbow creases towards the front of your mat and press into all 10 fingertips. Curl your toes in under and gently lift your hips up. Your knees can stay bent or work to straighten them bringing your heel to the ground or towards the ground. Relax your head and neck and be sure to hyperextend the arms, so that you are creating a downward V shape.
Fun in this pose
This pose doesn't have to be a Dog, it could be a tent, a unicorn or a tunnel! It can be anything you imagine it to be! It is also fun to pair it with other poses like:
Dog to Frog or Downdog to Updog.
It can also be fun to partner up and take turns in taking the dog for a walk or creating fun ways to do a Downward Dog as a partner pose!
If you would like to see a post on doing that, let me know!
3 ways you can connect with Nature this week with your children.
"Many studies show the positive links between direct experiences in nature and children's mental, emotional and physical health and well-being. The studies show that regular direct access to nature can: increase self esteem and resilience against stress and adversity" (Quote found here)
Taking the time to connect to nature has a huge range of benefits. It allows us to really get back to our selves and find a sense of calm. Here are three ways you can connect with nature this week.
1. Plant something
You don't have to be an amazing gardener, you can keep it really simple. You could plant some basil seeds in a pot on your window, or perhaps plant some flowers that the bees will love in your garden. Whatever you choose to plant, take the time to care for it and watch it grow. I always find watching something grow from 'nothing' so satisfying.
2. Feed the birds
We made some really cool DIY bird houses/feeders last week.
(This one is really cool).
Check out what foods are good for the local birds here.
3. Cloud watch
I love laying in the sun and cloud watching but with the unpredictable weather that may not be happening this week. However, cloud watching can be enjoyed whatever the weather and from almost anywhere. It can be really calming but also allow for creativity. I am sure we have all played the game at one point where we try to see animals and different shapes in the clouds.
This is a great activity with the kids, especially if they do enjoy their screen time as it allows for long distance eye practice.
It is also fun to talk about your different perspectives and if you can see anything the same way as each other. For example, when doing this activity once with my daughter we could both see one cloud as a duck but another cloud we could see completely different things; I could see a unicorn and she could see a dolphin.
Nature is not a place to visit...
...it is home.
How do you like to connect back to nature?
Do you already do some of these activities? Let me know in the comments ♥️
The Importance of Gratitude
This is a running theme in so many of my blog posts, lesson plans and general day to day living. We like to include some form of gratitude into our day whether it is writing it down before we go to sleep, talking about it, playing gratitude themed games or using it as a theme for our art.
Gratitude can make you happier and healthier, physically and mentally. I write about the benefits of gratitude more in this blog post : Have an attitude of Gratitude.
Gratitude is a mindset and not something we can hold in our hands or point to so we have to get creative in the way we teach it to our children. Instead of focusing on getting children to see it, we should bring focus on getting children to feel it. A great way to do this is through art. Children have such beautiful imaginations and it is wonderful to see their creativity flourish. This can also be a really fun opportunity for adults to get creative.
Start by setting up a clear space, without distractions of television. You could even take this activity outside if it is a nice day! Get pens, crayons, glitter, paint or anything you feel like getting arty with today and your paper ready.
Choose from the following prompts to help your child (and yourself if joining in) feel the gratitude in what they have at this very moment.
1. Draw something that makes you happy.
2. Draw someone you love.
3. Draw something that makes you feel good.
4. Draw someone who helps you.
5. Draw something that makes you feel thankful everyday.
I would love to see some of your drawings! Feel free to share with me by emailing me at email@example.com or tag me on social media www.facebook.com/amazingmekidsyoga www.instagram.com/amazing_me_yoga or right here in the comments! Enjoy!