It is important to get kids moving and thinking about good posture. Many children will sit for hours a day at school or college then go home and play on a computer game. This will develop poor posture and we need them to exercise and develop strong muscles and bones as this will help create good posture.
Here are some key points to consider when teaching kids:
- Keep it fun!
Teaching children is totally different from teaching adults. You have to help them focus and understand their bodies whilst having fun. Consider changing the names of the exercises for younger children, such as giving them animal names and making them move like animals in the warm-up for example, or get the children to watch an exercise then name it themselves!
- Keep it basic and use plenty of observation
Think back to your initial training of the Pilates fundamentals and all the visualisation that was used. This will help children understand where their body should be and how it should be moving. Some children, like adults, will have good flexibility while others won’t. Some will have great body awareness and others won’t. Some will have good strength and others won’t. You have to constantly observe and cue the Pilates fundamentals and principles and always start at the low levels and slowly progress
- Avoid large classes
Keep your classes small as this will be less overwhelming for kids and better for you to manage and give time to correct technique. Giving more one to one attention will keep their focus on the session. Think about the length of the class – half an hour is an ideal length of time for young children to maintain attention
- Highlight the benefits throughout
It’s a complete no-no to talk about weight with children but do highlight the benefits of Pilates and how it will help them with sports or activities they do at home, school or college. They will become fitter, stronger and more flexible which will help them in any activity they do. If they don’t do sports or dancing it will improve their posture in general. Highlight that many sporting personalities and famous people do Pilates to help them become better at what they do. Even name drop - Andy Murray, Ryan Giggs, AC Milan team, New Zealand All Blacks, Tiger Woods, Martina Navratalova, Madonna, Jennifer Anniston and many more!
Ensure you use the right terminology when teaching kids. For example they won’t know what ‘core’ means or ‘TVA activation’ or where their pelvic floor muscles are and what they do. Use wording such as belly buttons being pulled instead of navel to spine, and lungs can be balloons filling up with air then releasing all the air through the mouth
- Rewarding children
Children like to be rewarded for good and hard work so why should a Pilates class be any different? Stickers are always popular with young children as well as certificates at the end of the year or term. For slightly older children you could have a ‘star of the class’ or week, or a guest teacher each week, which could be one of the children. They love watching and learning from their peers