I just returned from the NAEYC conference in Washington DC. At the enormous and beautifully designed and equipped Kaplan section (they had a mini-stage and even a photo booth!), Wendy and I presented Move with Me Yoga Adventures’ resources and curriculum (checkout the new PP on our homepage – with research summary). And though it went well and some participants thanked us enthusiastically, frankly, I felt like a drop in a bucket. There was so much being offered and promoted simultaneously in all directions in the exhibit hall, I felt a bit overwhelmed and insignificant (same thing happens to me in Costco!).
But, after a few deep breaths and some body re-energizing, my brain was back online and I decided to explore and educate myself. In a place packed with everyone and everything associated with ECE – educators, administrators, content vendors, distributors, and developers – I had to just jump in and swim.
Here’s what I discovered…
- Smart, creative books for every situation and every child – stories are powerful teachers
- Amazing outdoor environments & playground equipment – wish all preschools could afford
- Fun cards, games, puppets, puzzles, and many variations of manipulatives for math, pretend play, fine motor skill development, etc. – always needed
- Cool STEM resources such as light boxes, tubes, funnels, boards, gears, etc. Kodo Kids even had a wind tunnel – totally cool that the scientific thinking of children is being consciously supported
- CD’s of music – for listening, background and movement – enchanting, fun, educational
- New online programs & curricula – Frog Street, ABC Mouse, K-12 EC, Kaplan, and Hatch – interactive screens with state of the art technology and content are the future
- Social-emotional learning and nutrition resources such as food and feelings cards, activities, posters – terrific scaffolding for developing social-emotional intelligence
Here’s what I felt was missing…
- Active play resources you can use indoors – so many childcare providers, Head Starts, and preschools have very limited outdoor space or equipment as well as inclement weather for several months yet children need daily movement enrichment & exercise
- Activities that develop mindfulness – mindfulness develops executive function, the ability to filter distractions and sustain focus, and critical thinking
- Tools for self-care and self-regulation – children need to have ACTIONS to take and to practice to learn how to calm, soothe, support, and re-direct themselves.
Maybe it’s just my perspective, but I have to admit, the journey through the maze of EC resources and programs actually made me realize that MwMYA type resources are needed more than ever. In all this content, there were the usual categories: literacy, math, puzzles, recognition, science, etc. – but where was the body? movement? mindfulness? Developmentally, early childhood is all about mastering the body yet with the focus on academics, it’s being skipped over. My passion for what we do and offer at MwMYA got re-ignited. The advocate for embodied learning in me was triggered into high gear. I started introducing myself to every company I could: Hi, I’m Leah from Move with Me Yoga Adventures and we’ve got content you need.
I went from feeling insignificant to important. Our movement adventures offer a new integration of story, exercise, and self-regulation that delivers supervised active play and social-emotional enrichment that any school, center, home can afford and use. The video classes develop fitness, enhance well-being, teach kids embodied self-care, and light up the whole brain for learning. Participation develops strength, balance, and coordination, builds brain cells, enhances memory, and helps children maintain a healthy weight.
If we pay attention to the research, clearly, it’s time to do more movement, practice more mindfulness, and teach prescriptive self-care techniques. Science continues to affirm the critical importance of embodied physical and mindful education. Obesity as well as learning, attention, and behavior statistics are screaming at us to do a better job to nurture, engage and empower the whole child. We need to go beyond relying on just 1) sending kids outside when possible or 2) music and some props for PE.