Updated: August 18, 2023
By Ocean Noah, contributing writer
The elementary school years are a pivotal time in every child’s life.
This is when kids new things, like how to practice yoga. Children also make friends, learn how to socialize, and learn how to be responsible about homework.
Indeed, the K-5 school years are critical for early childhood development and learning. This is why enrichment activities are so important to a child’s well-being and social-emotional development. School programs like kids yoga and mindfulness, for example, can help children develop life-long healthy habits.
Here are six enrichment activities every school should offer.
1. Time Management Programming
Most schools offer planners for their students, but these tend to sit at the bottoms of backpacks, along with aging granola bars.
Yet, did you know that planners can be easy to use and provide hours of fun for kids? For example, why not teach the kids how and when to use school planners? For example, when a teacher talks about homework assignments and makes announcements, they can encourage students to write those things down.
Writing in a planner can also help students practice their handwriting and develop organizational skills. For younger kids, teachers can even pass out stickers and colorful writing tools to make this an exciting activity.
2. Physical & Mental Health Education
A typical physical education experience entails running laps around a track and encouraging kids to eat fruits and veggies in elementary school. Programs like PE and nutrition education are crucial to the grade school experience, but they should not be exclusive to the classroom. Encouraging healthy eating and exercise should be discussed during school so that kids understand how to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Instead of just asking the kids to jog some laps around the school building and call it a day, why not discuss how running can improve your health? For example, cardio-vascular activity releases endorphins, which help improve your mental state. And, running also helps maintain a healthy heart.
In elementary school, nutrition education is important, too. This is when kids can learn about healthy foods. This way, they can recognize these food options at the supermarket and perhaps start eating healthy from a young age.
Mental health education is likewise very important at the elementary school level. In 2019, we recognize that mental health is just as important as physical health. And, just like we promote regular exercise and healthy eating habits, we should promote emotional intelligence. Kids should be encouraged to acknowledge emotions, share their feelings, and learn healthy tools to cope with difficult emotions.
3. Yoga for kids
Speaking of mental and physical health, we think yoga should be implemented in every elementary school (we can dream, right?)
Yoga helps students with anxiety. And, yoga also supports brain health. Yoga can be done in a classroom, outside on the grass, or even inside a gym. You can be just about anywhere and practice breathing, being mindful, and gaining flexibility.
Want to know more? Teaching yoga in schools is a rewarding career (or side hustle) that can enrich your own life, as well as your students’ lives.
If you want to bring yoga to your child’s school, check out our yoga teacher certification course!
4. Music Education
Music education has many benefits for a young student’s educational experience and long term development. Studies show that the part of the brain controlling musical ability and language comprehension are closely related. When a kid is exposed to disciplined and consistent music education, they develop powerful study habits.
Music education makes for a well-rounded education, and builds self-esteem and teamwork abilities.
5. Leadership Opportunities
Every school should have some sort of opportunity for students to gain leadership skills. Perhaps this means the school offers a student council, government positions in extracurricular clubs, or community service day trips.
According to an article from Penn State University, leadership activities have the following benefits for children:
Boost kids self-esteem
Improve public speaking and communication skills later in life
Teach children to identify their strengths and weaknesses
Help kids develop organizational skills
Teach children to work with others
These are all fantastic reasons to encourage your kids to get involved in a program promoting leadership skills! Additionally, getting involves increases feelings of belonging and connection. When you help to build your community up, you tend to feel more closely connected to it.
6. Mindfulness Programming
And, mindfulness activities for kids can help children manage emotional distress and academic pressure. Schools can implement mindfulness in the following ways:
Conflict resolution. When a child is expressing anger, he or she is usually feeling fear or shame. Mindfulness practices can help kids connect to a deeper awareness of what they are feeling. This can help kids communicate more effectively.
Study skills. When a student is memorizing multiplication tables, she is focused on that for a while. She likely won’t be thinking too much about lunch or the next subject. Multi-tasking is a useful and sometimes necessary skill, but there is also incredible power in being completely present with one task.
Enrichment activities Matter
Schools today help prepare students to have the necessary academic skills. Yet, while this is important, there are many other aspects of growth in schools that are equally crucial.
The elementary school years can do both: Offer academic subjects and help prepare kids to succeed with skills in mindfulness, yoga, leadership, music and more.
Remember: These early academic years are the time when kids are developing social lives, artistic interests, emotional intelligence, and so on. So, when enrolling your kids in a K-5 school, make sure you learn about enrichment programs both during the school day and after school. This will help your child get a head-start when it comes to personal growth and developing healthy habits.
Help kids develop healthy habits
In the meantime, if you want to learn more about how you can help kids develop healthy habits like practicing yoga and mindfulness, check out the 👉Pretzel Kids Yoga Method teacher training right here!
Ocean Noah is a content intern at Pretzel Kids. Originally from Los Angeles, Ocean moved to San Francisco to study creative writing at San Francisco State University. She writes fiction, blog posts, and op-eds. Ocean is thrilled to write for Pretzel Kids, as her mother is a yogi too!