Written By Chrissy Mignogna from 1000 Petals
I have taught toddler/preschool yoga for the last ten plus years and one thing I know for sure is that the use of visuals while teaching is a key to success. When I started teaching all those years ago, many people were surprised I could teach such young children breathing, mindfulness and movement. As many of us know, Early Education is actually a perfect environment for this fun, playful practice. Here is what makes Meddy Teddy the perfect tool!
A Model for the Movement
One of the difficulties with teaching younger children, is how to help them stay engaged with the yoga-based movement. Modeling the movement with our own bodies is very helpful for engagement. Sometimes we can’t model the poses if we need to help children – assisting with balance, or lightly lifting their backs off the floor for a Gentle Bridge. When we assist a little one into a pose, we are no longer demonstrating the pose with our body. This is where our assistant Meddy Teddy shines. Meddy Teddy can hold the pose freeing us up to move around the room to assist children.
A Friend for Relaxation
Meddy Teddy is also the best Relaxation participant. Meddy Teddy can lie down with a beanie baby on his belly to model how we stay still and quiet in final relaxation. Children are able to see exactly what the expectation is. They follow Meddy Teddy’s lead and breathe deeply into their bellies to gently rock the beanie babies to sleep. Because Meddy Teddy does not move and does not talk, they strive to do the same.
A Trauma-Informed Intervention
Recently, I have been working with an Early Education group of children experiencing trauma and dysregulation. I have had great success leading a session with the visuals from the Move Mindfully® Early Education Card Deck – Mountain, Upward Mountain, Forward Fold, Child’s/Seed, Tree, Down Dog, Rock on Back, Windshield Wipers. Once we move through these movements (repeating Mountain, Upward Mountain, Forward Fold 2-3x, and Seed to Tree balancing on both sides), I lie Meddy Teddy down and place a beanie baby on his belly so that the children know it’s time for Final Relaxation. I use reflective language for both Meddy Teddy and the Children at the end of our relaxation. “Meddy Teddy’s body looks peaceful and calm – is your body peaceful and calm?” or “Meddy Teddy’s beanie baby is asleep – is your beanie baby asleep?”
Using Meddy Teddy frees me up to be able to lie down or sit next to a child that is struggling while still being able to refer the other children back to what we are supposed to be doing. When it’s time to go, Meddy Teddy gets a lot of kisses and hugs from the children!
Meddy Teddy is also a great tool for home use. Toddlers love his calm, reassuring presence before bed. Also, while this post is focused on toddlers and preschoolers, older students love Meddy too! I have found that sometimes the reluctant students in the group are able to access the movement through Teddy!
Follow all of Meddy’s adorable adventures on Instagram. (he has almost 50,000 followers!)
What do you use when teaching toddlers and preschoolers? What visuals are helpful? Leave a comment!