I will be the first to admit that this age group used to scare me a bit. Not because I didn’t know how to teach them, but because I know how important it is to be teaching this age group. While yoga with the little ones is pretty much all fun and play, this age group is so impressionable. They have opinions, thoughts, views on everything and what I say and do with them will make a huge impact. They are self-conscious, shy, outspoken, obnoxious and thoughtful. It’s an age group I’ve started diving into full force as opportunities to teach these kids keep coming up. It’s like I’m supposed to be teaching this population because there are so many eager tweens asking for it!
The age range I teach is a little wider then some tween classes you may find- my classes range from 7-12yrs with most kids falling into the 7-10 yr old range. They come to class wanting a more “adult style” class, yet beg for me to use the sunshines! Ahh, those tweens, always keeps you guessing. After a few years of tackling this age group, I’ve figured out a few other things that seem to really work.
Ideas for working with Tweens:
1) Be real with them.
Talk to them in a way that they can relate to but just be forthright, honest & calm. They can see through the bull@#$% so don’t bring any of that to this group.
2) Start the class in a restorative pose.
I love teaching them how to set themselves up with blocks and bolsters so when they come in, they can take ownership of their relaxation. They come from a long day of school, when they come to me, they get to just be and let it all melt away.
3) Give them time to talk or share.
I love having the kids share something at the very beginning of class. They have so much to say and love having someone actually listen to them.
4) Challenge them!
Teach them arm balances, handstands, shoulder stands, poses at the wall & partner poses. They LOVE a good arm balance. Be aware of kids who cannot do these poses and give lots of modifications. We want every kid to leave feeling successful. If you are in a yoga studio, you have props and wall space, use them!
5) Self Care.
I love to teach about the feet and give them the opportunity to give themselves a massage. We talk a lot about how important it is to take care of ourselves and this age group could really use it.
These kids love games and I love teaching yoga games. We all need a little fun to end our day and yoga games offer just that, with no competition. They spend so much of their time trying to be the best, or first or to win. I tried to play musical mats to a bunch of 13-14 yr olds this summer and they would only play if there was a winner! That is so ingrained in them, that non-competitive games are almost unheard of by that age!
8) Use props.
I teach in a yoga studio in addition to all the work I do in schools. The studio has amazing props and we use them. The room is covered in them by the end. Using blocks, blankets, eye pillows, straps, bells, etc. is exciting and new. Most of these kids haven’t used them before or at least don’t have these at home. It makes the class that much more interesting and fun.
9) Breathing Exercises and Mindfulness are key.
These kids are overscheduled and overworked. They have crazy hormones and are extremely temperamental. Giving them tools to use when they have these big emotions will set them up for success as they get older. I find that teaching breathing exercises and mindfulness gives me the most pleasure and I see the most value in these activities. They need to learn to slow down, breathe, notice, feel, focus and sit quietly. It’s amazing to watch them use it and even more amazing to hear them tell me they use it at home and school.
What are some things you do with this age? I would love to hear from you!
Check out my Mindful Yoga Breaks Card Deck with loads of great breathing exercises & mindfulness activities that work great with tweens and kids of all ages.