By Jamie Isaac
“First, educate the child… Habits are easily formed – good and bad. Why not then concentrate on
the formation of only good habits… It is of paramount importance that the child be taught the
major principles of ‘Balance of Body and Mind’ ”
Joseph H Pilates
Joseph Pilates was truly ahead of his time. He had a mission for everyone to learn his method and children were very much a part of this mission.
Whether you’re looking to introduce some mindful movement for your own children, or considering leading a class in your community, you’ll find that the joy and benefits of Playful Pilates, spreads far further than to just the children.
I like to believe that our goal should be not to simply teach children, but to inspire them and excite them towards developing a lifelong relationship with the Pilates method. To do this we need to change our overall approach to the method. By introducing Pilates through playful and fun activities, children can develop their under- standing of movement in the body, and find a deeper, more personal relationship with the work. We can always return to a more structured and traditional Pilates style in the future after their Pilates fire has been ignited. But starting a fire is easier said than done. So here’s a few tips to help us ignite their interest.
1. Keep it fun! Get creative with props and games, and don’t forget to enjoy yourself too. After all, if you’re not having fun, then it’s unlikely they’re enjoying it either. Sitting in a circle and passing a ball around with their feet can be a fun game that engages the core, and promotes team work. We can up the ante by bringing in a fun competitive element and making it a race. Partner Pilates can be a lot of fun too. Just be careful to keep it safe and simple.
2. Short and snappy – Keep talking to a mini- mum and keep things active. This helps with attention spans. Shorter sessions have a bigger impact too. I like to plan for shorter 30 minute sessions with younger children. With longer sessions, I like to mix things up with a Pilates workout and some fun theo- ry or skills based activities.
3. Expect the unexpected! Things don’t always go to plan when teaching children, so have a few extra activities up your sleeve, ready for a change of pace or direction. For example, stopping the group for a team Pilates quiz could be the ideal way to change activities if partner Pilates gets a little too wild. Once, I was teaching a group of boys who were becoming a little too competitive in their part- ner work. I was asking them to gently push their partner’s legs away to add challenge to a leg lower- ing exercise. Needing to redirect the boys, I challenged them instead to face one another and mirror each others movements with the goal being not to compete, but to cooperate. This quickly helped the boys regain their focus. Bringing the group in for a short breathing exercise is a great way to change tempo and move on to the next activity…»
Full text available in 'Pilates4you Journal «Pilates Plus Psyche»'