Perhaps only people who work with children everyday with sports and movement are seeing the rapid decline in the flexibility of children over the past few years. But I have noticed an increasing number of children under the age of eight who cannot touch their toes, who have stiff necks, have stiff spines and inflexible feet.

Yoga poses or normal stretches are perfect for kindergarten movement. Stretching muscles can be an unpleasant and an unwanted feeling, especially for children. With an added element of fun it can be an activity the children will enjoy and look forward to.

Here are five ways to make stretching a fun activity:

1. Do the stretches to the count. Have children count with you and at the same time emphasise and prompt the children to keep their legs straight or whatever body part is being stretched in the right position.

2. Count in a different language. If you have multiple nationalities in the class, children can takes turns to count in their own language for the stretch. This boosts self-confidence and integrates diverse learning into the activity.

3. Use a rope to stretch.

4. Add pretend play. Enjoy this video with fun stretches using imagination:

5. Form a stretch wave. Have the children sit in a circle with their legs forward and straight. One child touches their toes, then the next one, and the next, until everyone in the circle is holding a stretch. The type of stretch can can be changed and the wave can begin again. Reverse the wave direction so each one stretches an equal amount.

If children are flexible they can:
– get dressed easily
– bend over to tie shoes
– play sports confidently
– climb with ease
– save themselves from injury if they fall
– stretch and reach heights
– sit on the floor comfortably with straight legs
– use core strength to sit up straight for long periods of time.

To give our children the opportunity to be the best they can be we must teach them exercises that support flexibility and muscle strength. It is our responsibility to inspire and facilitate ways for children in our care to become flexible, strong and capable.

Members of my MoovKids Movement Education private Facebook group have access to a great video where I show various stretches using a rope.

All teachers who want to learn more about how to implement meaningful movement are welcome to join my private facebook group where I am sharing weekly masterclass videos.

Enjoy stretching with your early learners!

Darlene Koskinen