Going back to school after six weeks of summer holidays may feel daunting for some children, not to mention those starting 'big school' for the very first time. Meeting a new teacher, being in a new classroom and settling into a proper routine can seem overwhelming, so it's only natural for kids to feel anxious in the days leading up to the start of term.
As part of our Back to School digital issue, our guest editor Giovanna Fletcher wanted to shine a light on Jaime Amor, founder of Cosmic Kids Yoga, who encourages children to practise yoga and mindfulness from as young as the age of four.
MORE: Jaime Amor shares 11 yoga and mindfulness tips for children
Jaime has put together this exclusive video for HELLO! readers, offering a quick five-minute routine to set children up for the day and calm any nerves they may have. Take a look at her video below…
WATCH: Jaime Amor shares her Back to School 1, 2, 3 routine for kids
Jaime, thanks for filming your fun yet calming kids' yoga video! Talk us through your Back to School 1, 2, 3 routine.
"The Back to School 1, 2, 3 is all about three key tools for physical and mental wellbeing. And they are Move, Breathe and Believe. We've given kids these very specific little tools that they can use whenever they need, which are practical and also really fun. The tools are all rooted in quite grown-up practises of yoga, movement, mindfulness and meditation but they're simplified to a point where a four-year-old can do them.
"So within the Move aspect, we're really encouraging kids to get moving and use their physicality, because it's a proven thing that if we move our bodies, we clear our minds and we relieve stress and anxiety. In the video, I guide kids through a really quick and very easy 'hello sun' sequence, which is basically a sun salutation, to starts our engines and get the whole body moving. But if kids only have a minute, they can strike a 'power pose' which gets your endorphins rushing and boosts your confidence when you need it.
Jaime encourages kids to start their day with a yoga routine
"Then the Breathe aspect is all about giving kids the tools to relax when they feel stressed, or when they want some quiet time to relax. Often breathing exercises can be a bit boring, a bit grown-up and a bit dry. So what I tend to do is make them very grabbable and easy for kids to understand, like petal breathing, which is a lovely way of opening your hands really wide as you breathe in. And as you breathe out, you close your fingers up towards each other, like a tulip bulb. It's also something that children can do quite quietly sitting at their desk, if they're feeling a bit nervous; it's not a big ostentatious movement.
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"Then the final aspect is Believe. This is where we use positive affirmations in a simple and active way. There's a lot of merit in kids taking themselves to the bathroom, looking themselves in the eye in the mirror and saying 'I am strong' or 'I am calm' or 'I can do this'. It helps to have a word with yourself sometimes, say it out loud, make it real and encourage yourself.
"So Back to School 1, 2, 3, has quite grown-up concepts like affirmations, breathing and physicality but we've put them into a package that kids can totally get and use whenever they need. And I'm really hoping that kids will use it in the run-up of going back to school, but also each morning before they go, to get into the habit of setting yourself up for a successful day."
Her Back to School, 1, 2, 3 routine involves moving, breathing and believing
And it's really designed to be a quick win every morning?
"Yes! Just five minutes every morning. It has to be quick, manageable and to fit in with all the other stuff that kids have going on. It's also designed for all children, so little ones who are going to school for the very first time right up to a kid going into Year 6." Would you suggest parents join their children in practising Back to School 1, 2, 3?
"It's definitely no bad thing for parents to try the Back to School 1, 2, 3! In a way, having kids see their parents making a point of looking after their mental health gives them the green light that this is a smart thing to do. It can also mean parents and kids develop some helpful common language to talk about how they're feeling and what they can do to help themselves. Anything that gets our wellbeing more into the open, the better!
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"That said, some kids (it really depends on their personality and age) may appreciate this simple tool for them to use independently when they need it. Some kids need to feel that sense of ownership and choice in what they do, which means they are more likely to see it through and give it their full attention.
"Either way, a really fun bonding activity is one video I have called, 'Hi, my name's Joe.' It's two minutes, it gets your whole body moving, jiggling, and it's hilarious. It will just make everyone laugh a lot and there's nothing better than laughing and moving as a tonic for any sort of anxiety or stress."
Positive affirmations are also very helpful for children
What would you say to parents who might argue their kids are too energetic to practise yoga and mindfulness?
"If you've got a child who has this amazing kind of spirit and energy, then that's great because they can channel it through something hugely active, like dancing or moving or yoga. I find this pacing works with kids when I teach them yoga; I build up the action, up and up and up and up and up, they expend lots of that energy and then they're really ready to relax. They will stick their tongue out and take a breath.
"That's why Move is quite an important aspect right at the beginning of Back to School 1, 2, 3 because you're engaging everything, you're getting your endorphins rushing around your body, and then you're ready to focus and move into the Breathe aspect. I think it's really sensible to allow for the children's energy to flourish first with the movement. Then follow with the calm stuff when they're ready for it."
Find out more about Cosmic Kids Yoga on their website cosmickids.com where you can download the Cosmic Kids App for hundreds of ad-free yoga and mindfulness videos for kids. Or head over to YouTube to explore the Cosmic Kids Yoga channel.
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