Local mom, former dancer and yoga enthusiast Marie Fernkvist-Green teaches a six-week Parent/Child Yoga class starting Feb. 24 for kids ages 2 to 5.
Yoga's health benefits are becoming well known and, according to Fernkvist-Green, the benefits help kids' developing bodies as well as adults.
"There are so many benefits for small children," she said. "It improves their balance and coordination, and bringing little bodies into these positions gets yoga into their minds, and they never forget. Yoga will be all around them as they grow up, and they will know what it is."
To help integrate children into the practice of yoga, she gives authentic-yoga based poses animal names, such as dog, cat, cow and butterfly. Not only can this class instill a lifelong love of yoga in even the youngest child, it can help parents boost their energy reserves by getting their chi flowing.
"I think it is so fun for parents to be there with their kids," she said. "Yoga is a great workout and it really makes you very patient, something all parents need. But the biggest thing for me is how fantastic it makes you feel — mind, body and spirit."
For even younger children, Ulli Sir Jesse facilitates two Kindermusik classes starting Feb. 1 for children ages birth to 3 years old. After enrolling both her children in Kindermusik, Fernkvist-Green is an enthusiastic supporter of the program.
"My daughter Ebba is 7 and still playing music," she said. "She loved the classes from the first to the last. Everything about the classes is wonderful — learning rhythm, dancing and Ulli herself. She makes them feel so good about themselves; like they can do anything."
Perhaps Sir Jesse's success has to do with the fact that she really believes in the magic of music. A music teacher of 30 years, Sir Jesse has an infectious enthusiasm for music and all that it celebrates. She feels that Kindermusik is the best approach to connecting with even the youngest children through the universal language of sound.
"Kindermusik enhances the bond between parent and child and allows them to get to know each other on a deeper level," she said. "It's a scaffolding approach, which means you observe what the child does and reinforce and build on that, showing them different things they can do. I see parents do this and then have a much deeper relationship afterward."
The Kindermusik program also uses songs that are simple enough for children but palatable to adults, too, which makes a big difference when the song is played over and over. Plus, getting parent and child together with others is a win-win situation.
"It's really fun for parents, too," said Sir Jesse. "They get to find a support system among other parents who are having similar experiences. And, however the child responds —whether they are outgoing or just want to sit and watch — is okay. One child I had was very quiet when he first started with the program and only wanted to watch. Then he just blossomed and now he loves music and can't wait to practice."
For youngsters in preschool through third grade, Ah Haa offers three mediums in one class with the six-week Make A Splash! Creative Clay! and Sizzling Silk! creative kids sampler series starting Feb. 10. Veteran instructors Susie Billings, Kathleen Jones and Fran Brumley introduce kids to the wonderful worlds of watercolor, ceramics and silk dyeing.
For more information on these and other classes, call the Ah Haa School at 728-3886.