YOGA, FREE DANCE AND ART ACTIVITY
Summer happens once a year for only a few months and we all want to have a great summer! Whether we are enjoying our summer days with our children at home, at our daycare or at a summer camp job, we all look for ways to find time to relax.
How do you create a fun home environment for your children 2.5-6 years of age on those days where activities are not organized or on rainy days? How do you find a few moments of time for yourself while minimizing chaos?
It is time to create a set of activities for those days when you have nothing planned during the summer. Keeping the peace is not as complicated as people think. Children are happiest doing the simplest of activities. Children that are 2.5-6 years of age love routine, repetition and when everyone is laughing and having fun.
I taught an afterschool program and had the same structure for eight years. Children loved the group and repeated the program. The structure was as follows: 20 minutes of yoga, 20 minutes of free dance and 20 minutes of free art.
Yoga (20 minutes)
You can use a regular yoga mat, cut an adult mat in two to make it child-sized, a cloth mat or towel or on a carpeted area. (Floors can be slippery-make sure to do yoga in bare feet.)
I recommend setting the following ground rules with your children: no balancing on your head, stay on your mat, listen to your body and if you feel any pain-stop right away. Demonstrate each pose first and then invite your child to take a turn.
Buy a set of yoga cards, (see Favourites for a great yoga card kit). If you have the time create a set of your own yoga cards, inspire your child do each pose and take pictures. If possible laminate your set of yoga cards so that they are more durable. A library book with yoga pictures is also a good resource.
Set up a yoga area in your house where your child can practice yoga. For easy access, roll up the yoga mats and put them in a large basket/container. Place the yoga cards on a tray or in a basket. Eventually let your child be the teacher. This can be a fun play date activity.
Free Dance (20 minutes)
Play different songs and dance with your child or with a group of children allowing them to learn how to express themselves through dance.
Set the following ground rules for participants: watch out for friends, family and furniture. Keep bodies and hands to yourselves and when the music stops-freeze. Demonstrate ground rules. For example, strike an exaggerated pose and say “Freeze.” Children love being creative with their poses when the music stops. The person operating the music has control so if the activity gets out of hand, stop the music more frequently.
After you have done this game a few times, allow your child a turn to control the music. If your child says, “This is boring,” keep going but ask if she/he has an idea of how to do it differently. Do not get upset when your child says it is boring. Instead think of ways to empower your child by giving him/her more responsibility in new situations.
Do your best not to laugh at your child unless they start laughing first. Sometimes laughing can stop a child from participating. Developmentally it is difficult for children at this age to differentiate between being laughed at and laughing together. Be goofy, have fun, and enjoy yourself and the special time you are having with your child.
Introduce dancing with Scarves or Ribbons to spice up your child’s interest. Enthusiasm is contagious so dance with excitement and love and your child will too.
Art (20 minutes)
Create an Art Area in your home where your child can access paper and materials whether supervised or not. Let your child explore freely with the art materials.
Cut white paper into half sheets and place on a tray or in a basket with a container of crayons that your child can easily open. If your child is older, you can introduce pastels or coloured pencils. The art area should be located in an area where your child is permitted to do art independently.
Keeping art in cupboards can limit your child’s creativity. If possible set up an accessible Art Shelf for your child.