Visual Cues for Kids' Yoga
Jun 12, 2018
A visual schedule is a common tool for children with special needs. It can help a child get ready for school in the morning and negotiate their school day. This is not just for children who have a cognitive processing challenge. Visual schedules can be helpful for all of us. It’s kind of like your desk calendar, but instead of time slots and written tasks, pictures represent each activity and their order.
It’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, so a simple image goes a long way to help a child understand and participate whether that is their morning routine or a kids’ Yoga class.
A child who has a hard time staying on task or paying attention can benefit from visually seeing what is going to happen in class. It’s also helpful for a child who has a language processing challenge. It can work well for any stressed-out kid who is over stimulated and over-scheduled.
We use a very basic schedule that can be modified by the teacher of the kids’ Yoga class and tailored to the children in the class. It includes an image for each activity. We start by tuning in with OM so the first image is an OM symbol. Then, we practice breath awareness. An image of a flower represents this portion of class. Sun Salutations are next and this is represented by a sun. We practice Yoga poses, play some games and relax. Each activity has an image on the chart shown here.
Depending upon the individual needs and preferences of the children in class, you may start with each image face down. Turn it up to do the activity, then turn it over again when it’s complete. Or, begin with them all face-up and turn each one over as it’s completed. This makes it easy to see where we are in the process of our time together and what’s coming next. Transitions can be challenging for some kids and this is a great tool to help ease the flow from one activity to the next.
When possible, use a photograph of the child for visual cues. This is especially helpful for children on the autism spectrum who can be more literal and wouldn’t as easily understand a graphic representation like the ones on the schedule pictured here. A child can easily see, without having to navigate a storm of verbal input, “Hey, there I am doing that pose!” And they know to do that pose.
Visual schedules and cues can go a long way to reduce the amount of input that’s needed to process to participate. They can be soothing for an overstimulated child and they can ease the transition from one activity to the next. You can create one in advance or have the kids in class help create one with their own drawings.
Interested in more adaptive practices for kids’ yoga classes? Check out our Therapeutic Yoga for Children training.