Teaching young children is such a rewarding experience. Whether they be gearing up for preschool or settled in middle school, the Qigong program can have a positive impact. The key to showing children this unique art is simple: smile!
The qigong exercises, form, agility practice, and meditations are opportunities for children to exercise and also use their imagination, which is something all children enjoy. Here the use of imagery is key. Young children love to mimic your behaviors and actions so following along comes naturally and the use of imagery allows children to think deeper about their movements and senses.
When teaching older children, the meaning behind each movement and specifics become more important in understanding and providing explanations. Then, participating in the exercises with awareness of mind and body, will challenge their cognitive abilities.
Children learn best when given a safe, nurturing environment where they can explore, share and learn. The qigong program allows children of all ages to do just that. Being flexible in the approach is important. In the classes I have taught, children have choices in the flow of the class. It engages the students to make a choice of what the group should do and reinforces the names of the activities.
For meditations, Dr. Yang always provides a story that relates to a theme of functional meditation. I do the same in the classes and then ask the children to share something relatable, which, again engages them in the conversion and thought process.
While teaching the program I simply created fun names to the exercises that children could relate to and visualize. For example while practicing santi standing meditation, students were taught the name "surfing the wave" and taught the key concepts as they surfed! This simple, yet powerful approach, helps students remember the names of the exercises and be engaged.
Another approach was tracing each child's footprint (4-6 year olds), having the child decorate it and then taping their footprints on the floor in the Santi stance. Then we used the footprints for exercises and meditations during class.
For reverse breathing exercises, young children can physically feel their core moving as they breathe and then discuss why this movement occurs. Experiencing the movements, describing what occurs and why, along with a fun approach allow children actively to participate and benefit from the Qigong program.
About the Author
Denise Dorans is an elementary school teacher in Bayonne, New Jersey. She is a student of Dr. Yang and certified to teach the EBQT program. Over the past few years she has taught several classes for young children aged 4-10 and recently started a class for adults at a local wellness center.