When we sat down and started building our lesson plans for our pre-school and school age classes at Heart & Soul we knew that implementing warming up and stretching into them was an absolute must. We know that many parents wonder why we have their children stretch and especially why we spend time stretching, but let me tell you it is for a wonderful reason!
We start every class with 5 minutes of either a rapid movement game for the preschoolers or teacher lead cardio for our school age athletes. Starting a class this way allows the kiddos to warm up their muscles and their bodies, allowing them to get ready to move! The games that we play with our pre-school classes are what we refer to as gross-motor skill building activities, we focus on hand-eye or foot-eye coordination, learning how to kick a ball around an obstacle course, and building color knowledge. With our older students we make sure to get their muscles warm and their blood pumping with running, jump ropes, hula hoops and other teacher lead cardio activities. This ensures that every warm up is effective and FUN!
We spend another 5 minutes stretching after the warm-up activity. This is the time when we teach your kiddos about important body positions, alignment, and helping them build their flexibility. We hold stretches for 10-30 seconds, this amount of time allows the kiddos to lengthen their muscles without causing any damage. Holding a stretch longer than these times can cause permanent damage, like scar tissue and have negative effects on your child’s performance. We also make sure that we stretch both sides of our bodies equally, favoring a right or left side can lead to a multitude of physical problems later in life, so we like to make sure that every side of the body is stretched correctly. The act of following a weekly stretching routine will not only help kiddos build strength and flexibility, but it also helps to improve their concentration, focus and memorization skills. Setting the tone for the class by following the teacher during stretching, ensures that they will follow directions and listen more closely throughout the rest of class. This is also why it is incredibly important to be on time for classes, so that none of the warm-up is missed.
When we begin to build focus and memorization in young children, we know that it will help them throughout life! With the practice of stretching, it has been found to help with lessening pain related to growth plates, helping to build better posture, and it also has been found to lower the amount of sports related injuries over the life of an athlete. Listed below are some of the basic preschooler and school age stretching if you want to bond at home with your kiddos and stretch together!
Tumble with Me Stretching
- Reach tall to the sky! Can you tickle your nose? Tickle your tummy? Tickle your toes?
- Jump open your feet! Can you make a big rainbow to one side? And the other side?
- Sit down in a butterfly stretch and make your toes kiss! Can you put your nose to your toes?
- Open legs into a straddle! Can you tickle one foot? Can you tickle all the way to your other foot?
- Reach tall in your straddle and TIMBER!
- Bring toes together into a pike stretch! Say go away toes (point) and come here toes (flex)! Catch your toes!
- Make a tuck position, place your hands behind you on the floor and make a table.
- Come down and rock and roll in your tuck position!
- Stand up and show your stick-finish-flare! (Ta-Da!)
School Age Stretching
- Arm circles backwards and forwards (5 ea)
- Crisscross arms in the front and back (feet shoulder width apart)
- Trunk twists with feet apart
- Roll neck side to side then hold while looking at their toes
- Straight body then reach for toes, while keeping their legs straight
- Squat down and jump to a push up position and do 5 push ups
- Set knees down and stretch wrists on the floor
- Do hip flexor and hamstring stretch
- Right and left leg splits- hold each for 10-15 seconds
- Middle split hold for 10-15 seconds
- Roll hips back and sit in a straddle for straddle stretch hold right, left and middle for 5-10 seconds
- Swing legs together into a pike position- reach and hold toes for 10 seconds
- Bridge position for 10 seconds- have feet together with knees bent, pushing their shoulders over their hands
- Rocking chairs x 3 to a stand