After years of teaching yoga to children, I have found that the most valuable thing I can offer in my parent/child yoga classes is to set realistic expectations for the parents.
As parents we want only the best for our children. So when it seems like our child isn't focusing on the class we brought them to it can be very frustrating. One of the biggest lessons I've learned over the years is that "learning" doesn't always look how you would expect.
At the beginning of Story Time Yoga I tell the parents that every single child learns differently. Some children may wander around the room the whole time exploring. Others may just sit and stare at me for a while and not do very much. No matter what it looks like though, they are all little sponges taking it all in. How do I know? Because I've seen it time and time again!
When young children come to yoga consistently- or do yoga at home- we begin to see the benefits over time. I've had so many parents tell me that they were baffled when their child who had been coming to class for a few weeks but seemed to not be paying attention suddenly sat cross-legged, said OM, and started doing yoga poses at home.
My daughter Em reminded me of this valuable lesson recently. Seemingly out of the blue she said "Oga" and grabbed her little yoga mat off the shelf. I rolled it out for her whereupon she stood on the may and said, "Oooooommm."
Woah! (I happened to catch it on video, see below.)
I have been doing yoga with Em since she was born and to suddenly see this light bulb go off at 16 months, I was floored. Even though I knew she was taking it all in the whole time, that moment when it call seemed to come together made me so proud. And it reminded me of what I tell parents over and over again.
So if you're a parent who is hesitating to sign up their child for a yoga class because they can't sit still? I've got to tell you- if they can't sit still, yoga is the perfect place for them.