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Challenge to Change's Five Parts of Practice for Children: Heart of the Lesson

Five Parts of Practice


At Challenge to Change, we follow the Five Parts of Practice when we are teaching children our Yoga and Mindfulness program. These Five Parts of Practice are:


+ Seated Practice

+ Movement

+ Heart of the Lesson

+ Guided Mindfulness Practice

+ Close of Practice


Molly, our Founder and the CEO of Challenge to Change, created these Five Parts of Practice when she was receiving her certification to teach children’s yoga. As a former classroom teacher, Molly was aware that children learn best when there is structure and routine in their lessons. While Molly learned many wonderful strategies and ideas for teaching yoga to children in her training, she felt that the missing piece to making her lessons most effective was a consistent structure to her practice. Hence, the Five Parts of Practice were born.


This series of articles is designed to inform our readers what each part looks like and why we include it in our teaching.


The Heart of the Lesson


Once we have transitioned our participants to our lesson with the Seated Practice and channeled their energy with Movement, we move on to the Heart of the Lesson. The Heart of the Lesson is when we teach new mindfulness and social emotional skills. This might look like a mindful read-aloud, a partner or community-building activity, a new breath work practice, a yoga flow, or a new specific mindfulness skill. Sometimes we combine several of these practices into one exciting lesson!


Here are some descriptions of specific Hearts of the Lesson that are a part of our Yoga and Mindfulness curriculums.


Finger Tracing


In our Year 1 curriculum, we introduce several new breath practices to the students. One of their favorites is Finger Breathing. To do this, raise your dominant hand (the hand you write with) in the air and extend your pointer finger. This is now your pencil finger. Take your other hand and hold it in the air with your fingers spread wide. Take your pencil finger and place it at the base of your thumb. As you inhale, trace up your thumb, and as you exhale, trace down your thumb. Inhale again and trace up your pointer finger; exhale and trace down. Inhale up your center finger; exhale and trace down. Repeat with the remaining fingers on your hand. Do this as many times as needed until you feel calm.



“Try Everything” from Zootopia


Each year of our yoga and mindfulness curriculum, we introduce a song that we have choreographed a yoga flow to go along with. The lyrics of each song have meaning and are tied to our curricular theme that year. Our Year 4 curricular theme is having a growth mindset, and the song for that year is “Try Everything” from the Disney movie, Zootopia. (If you haven’t seen Zootopia yet, we highly recommend it as it is delightful and is all about having a growth mindset).


Through our yoga song and flow, we are able to review previously learned yoga poses and teach new ones. Through the song’s lyrics, we emphasize the importance of trying new things, learning from mistakes, and being okay with our personal best—all trademarks of having a growth mindset.


Gratitude Rampage


Our Gratitude Rampage is a fun partner and small group activity that builds community and happiness. To play the Gratitude Rampage, sit with a partner and take turns rattling off things—big and small—that you are grateful for. The only rule is that you cannot immediately repeat something your partner just said . . . you must wait a turn. This activity never fails to bring smiles to everyone’s faces!


Metta Mindfulness


Metta is the practice of sending love and kindness out into the world. It uses the phrases,


May I/you be happy,

May I/you be healthy,

May I/you feel loved,

May I/you be safe.


To practice Metta, you begin by sending yourself positive energy with these phrases. Once your own heart feels full of self-love, you then send these wishes to someone you care about. The third step, which can be the most challenging, involves using these phrases to send love and kindness to someone whom you struggle to get along with. The act of sending Metta helps make the world a kinder and happier place because it recognizes that individuals who act unkindly often are just in need of love and understanding themselves. It also emphasizes the importance of self-love. Metta is often a favorite activity with participants, and is an integral component of mindfulness.


Conclusion


While each of the five parts of practice is important to our mindfulness teachings, the Heart of the Lesson holds each of our yoga and mindfulness lessons together. The Heart is our opportunity to teach the important life skills of patience, kindness, emotional regulation, self-reflection, and self-acceptance (all of which are components of mindfulness). Our Hearts of the Lesson are truly the essence of what we at Challenge to Change are all about.




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