Kids Can Learn Responsibility by Teaching Each Other Yoga

Responsibility is the Character Development theme for the month of October in our School Board.

Do your homework.  Look after your sister.  Be Responsible!  Kids can be so irresponsible when it comes to taking care of their stuff or taking the initiative to get something done.  This month’s theme of responsibility is a topic kids are familiar with.

Let the kids teach yoga!

To some, responsibility feels like a burden and being irresponsible is a kind of guilty pleasure.  Others love taking on responsibility and actually thrive when they have to answer for their actions.  And then there are those who juggle both kinds of responsibility.

The Roots and Definition of Responsibility
The definition of responsibility means being in charge of someone or something, or being a dependable person.  The roots come from the words “respond” and “ability” put together.  Being Responsible is being answerable to someone for something.

We don’t like responsibility when we are answerable for things we don’t like.  We like responsibility when being answerable gives us recognition.

Yoga teaches us about responsibility.  In a yoga class we are responsible to follow the teacher and respect other students.

Don’t be Lazy and Don’t Be Fanatical
In Yoga we answer to ourselves as well.   My meditation teacher described two monsters, Too Much and Too Little, one sitting on each shoulder.   My yoga teacher used to tell us, “Don’t be lazy and don’t be fanatical.”  In yoga we are responsible to find a balance between these two extremes.

To teach kids about responsibility give them an opportunity to experience responsibility as a positive experience.  They’ll get practice balancing the different types of responsibility.  After all sometimes we take on responsibility for things that we can’t control.

Ask the kids:  what kinds of things they are responsible for at home, at school, and as a friend. (putting my toys away, homework, being a good friend, being honest).   Who do you answer to for these responsibilities?  (parent, teacher, friend)  What responsibilities do you like?  Don’t like?

Put up your hand if you like to teach other people? (usually most like this – both kids and adults!)  If you want to be a teacher you are responsible to help people learn.  For example when I’m teaching  yoga I’m in charge of looking at everyone and making sure they understand the pose, do the pose without hurting themselves, or I show another pose if someone can’t do the pose I’m teaching.   I have the ability to respond if I see someone having a hard time.  I respond by helping them figure it out.

To Teach Responsibility – Give Responsibility
Today I want to give you the responsibility of teaching the yoga class.  This means you will be responsible for:

  • choosing a yoga pose,
  • explaining the pose to the class (for older kids) or demonstrating the pose (younger kids),
  • helping each child do the pose.

Who wants to can be responsible for teaching a part of the class?  Most kids will put up their hand but a few kids won’t want to do it they can do the poses the other kids teach.

Who wants to play a game?  Did you know a game involves responsibility?  Why?  (you have to follow the rules and not cheat!)   Who wants to play a game and agrees to follow the rules? (yah!)

Responsibility – A Sample Lesson Plan
You can structure a sixty minute class like this:

  1. Welcome and Introduction (10 minutes):  Discuss some of the questions above.
  2. Kids Teaching -  Warm-Ups (15 minutes):  choose 4 kids who want to teach a warm up (give examples of your favorite warm-up if they can’t think of a warm up)
  3. Kids Teaching – Yoga Poses (20 minutes):  6 kids teach their favorite poses, usually about 3 – 4 minutes per child.
  4. Relaxation (5 minutes):  ask one child to lead a meditation (it’s so sweet to hear their version of the meditation you give) or play some soft music.
  5. Game (10 minutes):  Here’s  a twist on Marco Polo, a call and answer game, called “Downward Doggy.”   The caller, with eyes closed and hands out, walks around saying “Downward.” The rest of the kids, moving around in Downward Dog, must answer “Doggy.”  Using the sound the Caller has to find someone.  Whoever they touch is the next caller.

I taught this game yesterday in two classes each with about twelve kids aged 5 – 7 years.   The first group moved quickly with people getting found in about 10 seconds.  But the kids didn’t mind and we kept going till everyone had a turn to be It.

In the second group, the kids were more competitive.  They took much longer to get caught and you could tell many of the kids were peeking because they knew where to go without saying anything.  They needed many reminders to call out Downward Doggy.  Plus the kids were crawling instead of doing Downward Dog which made them faster and harder to catch so they had to be encouraged to stay up.

But none of the kids took the game too seriously, and the game was a big hit.

One part of yoga is learning the connection between body, mind and spirit we see how we are responsible for the health of all these facets of ourselves.  Through games and creative play children get an experience of the positive side of responsibility. A person who understands this can be responsible to other people and also for their own happiness.

For more information about Responsibility check out this Guest Post by Donna Freeman of Yoga In My School.

Feel free to comment with any ideas you have to help kids learn about responsibility.

More News from Young Yoga Masters:

“Best Training Ever”
- feedback from the Kids Yoga Teacher Training last weekend.

This weekend’s Kids Yoga Teacher Training is full, I look forward to seeing everyone registered there.  There is only one more training scheduled for 2010.  Please click here for full details.  I hope you can join us to bring the gift of yoga to children.


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