Ritual is so very important all the time, but especially in youth classes.
“Rituals provide predictability and reliability, which translates to a feeling of safety and security for young children. These routines support emotional regulation as the child navigates everyday challenging events” – Debra Pierce
It’s all about repetition and structure. When a child knows what will happen at certain times, they gains a sense of control over the situation…. And in this world, there is an awful lot that is outside of our control.
Without the routine, things are wide open and without bounds- too much of the unknown for a small child to handle. A ritual provides narrower boundaries and fewer choices allowing us to stretch our minds and bodies in new ways within the safety of structure.
Here is a little taste of the Opening Ritual we have developed and curated in Twisted Tykes over the last year. Of course, classes are living organisms and things need to adapt and change over time. But for now, this is what we are up too.
I like to have a pre-class activity for every class, when you are dealing with toddlers and young kids, it’s pretty difficult to get everyone started on time and I think it’s good to have an activity that transitions them into class. Usually we color or play with sensory bottles, but sometimes I will have balloons or party blowers or feathers for us to practice breathing techniques. I try to keep this transition activity pretty low-key, something people can join into as they arrive and that isn’t disturbed if 3 kids need to run to the potty or don’t want to say goodbye to mom just yet.
Usually I have this set up and ready to go before anyone even walks in the door and we go on until everyone has arrived and settled in, and if that is taking a while, I wrap it up about 5 minutes after the class start time.
After that we take a moment to share whatever it is we have created or practiced or noticed, then we clean up what ever messed we’ve made, get a drink of water, and head to our mats.
Again, because we’ve set up our rituals and routines, everyone is happy to transition because they know whats coming next.
Our Singing Bowl!
This is without a doubt everyone’s favorite thing. And they know they can’t get a turn until they are in Easy Seated Pose and one their mat, so it’s great for calling everyone’s attention. At this point, I don’t even have to use words, as soon as I pick it up they are quiet and still. Everyone gets a chance to ring the bowl and as they do they say their name and age and answer the question of the day. I usually have the question relate to the theme for our class to help get their little minds moving in the right direction and after they’ve all answered we use our bodies to create poses or movement based on their answers.
After that, we warm up, tackle our activities for the day, and then take some time for quiet rest and mindful meditation. (I’m always amazed at how much we can achieve and how much fun we can have in such a short amount of time.)
Once we have achieved all of that, we finish each class with a very similar Closing Ritual.
I bust our Singing Bowl back out and we go backwards around the circle taking turns ringing the bowl. This time they remember and reflect on what they liked most about class that day, what they felt really successful doing in class that day, or something they did that helped make our class better.
After we have all had a turn, we sing our Namaste Song to say goodbye and to signal that class is over. When we’ve finished singing, students are free to begin getting all of their things together while I open the door for parents. When their mat is rolled up and their shoes are on, they get a sticker and hug or high-five good bye (their choice).
The ritual of our singing bowl and how we start and end class each week has really helped us all have the best experience we can. It offers a safe and fun way to transitions our mind and bodies from the outside world into our space and makes sure we are ready learn and grow.
Of course, literally everything can become a sacred ritual to you and your family whether it is pizza on Friday nights, books before bed time, singing a special song when you get in the car, or celebrating Taco Tuesday with your girlfriends. Aside from helping create a special memories, and a safe learning environment, it also helps manage clear expectations and offers you and your little one freedom within the structure.
What are some of your favorite rituals and routines you’ve created in your home or classroom? I’d love to hear all about them so leave a comment or shoot me a message.