This week in Yo Re Mi classes, I rode on an eagle, balanced like a pumpkin tree, visited an animal box and drove a taxi racing tractor car. These were not my ideas. These classroom activities came from the free-associating and creative minds of young children. In all of those instances, my job (which I love) was to ask a question and then be ready to say, “Yes!”
Spend 20 minutes with a 4-year-old and you will realize that children have incredible ideas. This formative time in their life is a perfect opportunity to encourage unique and diverse thinking. We grown-ups don’t have to have all the answers, thank goodness. And even when we do, it can be way more fun to ask the children to share theirs.
1. Use Kids Yoga to Encourage Individuality
Yoga is a perfect way to explore uniqueness. After all, the practice boils down to mindfully making shapes with our bodies. And just as every body is different, every person’s pose is likely to be unique as well. One of my favorite poses to demonstrate this is tree pose. There are so many different types of trees, and no two trees look the same.
Using tree pose not only builds strength and posture, it also stimulates vestibular and proprioceptive systems. When we allow children to take the lead and offer ideas for variations, we’ll find ideas like partner poses promote teamwork and self-regulation.
Try this: Tree Pose
Practice traditional tree pose first and then ask children what kind of tree they would like to be. You might hear oak tree, bonsai tree, pear tree or any other variation.
Invite the children to change their physical pose to make their unique tree.
As a group or in pairs, have the children try each other’s tree poses. How are they alike? How are they different?
2. Learn the Secret to Sparking Curiosity in Children
Children have an innate and insatiable desire to explore and make discoveries. Encouraging children’s curiosity can translate to a lifetime of learning, building confidence in their ability to expand their skills and talents. Some folks describe this as having a growth mindset, rather than fixed. This has been proven in recent scientific discoveries relating to neuroplasticity, which have shown that the brain can grow and form new connections throughout one’s life.
what’s the secret sauce to sparking kids’ curiosity & revealing unique ideas?
Open-ended inquiry! In its simplest form, we can start by asking questions that cannot be answered with a yes or no. Begin questions with words like “I wonder” or “What do you think?” and let children take the lead with their ideas.
3. Welcome Kids Activities that Foster Curiosity, Individuality and Creativity
There are many ways we can use open-ended inquiry and everyday materials to spark curiosity in children. You know that shipping box from Amazon that your kids can’t get enough of? That’s an open-ended material. It has no limits - it could be a boat, a house, a cave, a basket, a car and so forth.
Add some scrap fabric or toilet paper rolls into the mix and get ready for the hours of creative play ahead. Working with materials that can grow or change can teach children about their own limitless possibilities.
Our family’s favorite open-ended environment? The great outdoors… digging in the dirt, rolling in grass, finding fun things to do with sticks, rocks, leaves and twigs. The possibilities are endless and if you get stumped, simply ask a question. Your child will know exactly what to do.
Try this: Be a warrior for creativity
Make warrior poses and invite children to come up with their own warrior names, special battle cry and superpower.
Turn their superpowers into affirmations: say “I am strong”, “I am powerful” or “I am peaceful.”
Ultimately, it’s our job as adults to raise children who have the ability and confidence to think creatively and view their inevitable set-backs as means for improvement and personal growth.
Here is a fun video that talks about why we might want to cultivate a growth mindset in ourselves and our children.
How Do We Ensure Our Kids Continue to Feel Like Their Possibility is Limitless?
How do we let children take the lead and provide an environment that welcomes growth? Celebrating uniqueness, encouraging open-ended inquiry and saying “Yes” to all the wild things they will certainly come up with…that’s a good start.