How Kids’ Yoga Build Important Skills for Success




What is the I-CAN programme?

My elder boy who is turning 14 has been doing teens’ yoga for over 3 months weekly and he loves it. For a boy with ADHD and dyslexia, it has helped him in many ways, especially in staying more focussed and managing stress.

I decided to design the I-CAN activities, which can benefit children with conditions such as ASD, ADHD, Down Syndrome. Many parents get turned away by either the unsupportive learning centres or the higher fees just because they are not prepared to cater to these children. My almost 7 year old with autism absolutely loves being there with his 2 new friends.

FIRST Kids Yoga for special children in Singapore and possibly Asia

12 January was an awesome start to the year as the FIRST kids’ yoga class for special children was started in partnership with Om Shiva Yoga, taught by the ever so passionate and patient Juliana Phua@ Om Shiva Yoga.

Here’s what Juliana has to say

“After some years of teaching adults, I was one day asked to teach a Kids Yoga class and I quickly realised that teaching Kids requires a whole different skill set and I could not just do the same things as I do in an adults’ class. Kids benefit immensely from Yoga but if it is boring they would not be interested. Kids are innately wise, they can feel if the teacher was interested in them or if the teacher was confident in teaching them. I managed to adapt to the children at that time while doing the best that I can.

As I wanted to learn more about teaching children yoga, I brought in Kids Yoga Teacher Training from all over the world so I can learn from the best. I believe that Kids Yoga will help our new generation in so many ways and to prepare them well for their adulthood. I wanted my own children to start young as well.

Yoga brings back balance – Our children now have busy lives where they face pressures from parents, school, tuition and enrichment classes. They are constantly surrounded by video games, mobile phones and social media. With all these constant hustle and bustle, our children now face overstimulation more than ever. Yoga is an amazing form of activity that teaches them practical ways to release stress and bring their body back into equilibrium.

Dr. Howard Gardner, an author and professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, describes eight intelligences innate in all of us—linguistic, logical, visual, musical, kinesthetic, naturalistic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal—and emphasizes that children should be given the opportunity to develop and embody as many of these as possible.

In keeping with this theory, Kids’ Yoga classes usually integrate storytelling, games, music, language, and other arts into a complete curriculum.

Benefits of Kids’ Yoga

  1. Improves/ Maintains flexibility and strengthens growing bodies
  2. Develops motor Sskills
  3. Better balance, stability, coordination and body awareness
  4. Enhances concentration
  5. Increases self esteem, confidence and social skills
  6. Teaches present moment awareness
  7. Cultivates a peaceful, relaxed state of body and mind
  8. Deeper connection with their inner self and the natural world outside
  9. Gives coping techniques, and tools for stress management
  10. Teaches tools for self – regulation of emotions
  11. Sparks creativity in ripe imaginations
  12. Encourages kind peer and social interactions
  13. Teaches discipline and responsibility

Now this sounds like a long list of benefits and we sometimes wonder if it is possible to accomplish in one yoga class. The answer is no. That’s why we as teachers have to be patient and we ask parents to be patient as well.

Yoga practice for the long term – Yoga is a lifelong journey. We cannot expect one class to cover it all, we work slowly but surely towards letting our children experience all these, and commitment is important, from the teacher, the children and the parents. Being impatient and pushing it too fast may end up having the opposite effect.

For more information about the Kids’ Yoga class, please contact Juliana from Om Shiva Yoga at 9689 5392 or Lilian at 9105 8929.

About the I-CAN activities

The activities are specially designed for children who just need to start off in a smaller group before they join the regular classes. Each class is no more than 5 children and activities are well-thought through. These actvities help the children develop a routine, understand expectations, grow to love the activity and have fun keeping fit. Once they are ready to join the regular classes with other neuro-typical children, they will progress to another level to help them develop the much needed social skills, focus and resilience. Brought to you by 8under8.

Autism: A Christmas Story



The following post written by Geraldine Tan from The Therapy Room was originally featured on Facebook @ thetherapyroomsg

AUTISM: A Christmas Story

A young boy came 3 years ago. I recalled him running around his school and not being able to be in the classroom. His parents saw his need and did not run. They chose to sit with Psychologist Gerry and from there we walked. The school, his parents, his therapists. We journeyed. A quiet road. No fanfare. Just walked.

Much effort from his mother who embraced the child and his abilities. She trusted that help was there and help can be given. His abilities developed and limitations decreased! His mother held his hand through and she never let ours go too. There were people that doubt and naysayers but she trusted.

We saw him through Kindergarten 1 and them from Kindergarten 2, his mother took a brave road and chose to believe and try the local mainstream school. Her efforts to coordinate all the help he needed gave all of his therapists the encouragement and joy working with the local schools. Psychologist Gerry educated the teachers about what can be done in the school, his ABA therapist and Psychologist Jinyi worked tirelessly with him week after week.

Three Christmases with us, he has completed his Primary 1! Sat his first year end examination! But prouder are we that he is chattier, cheekier and affectionate, no longer just the little boy lost in his world.

This Christmas he joined us for Camp Global®️, The Therapy Room’s multisensorial Camp! He was tenacious in attempting everything, challenging himself. The cheers the team gave him when he succeeded and the smile he gave us can only be described as ‘fulfilled’.

The road, this quiet road, we will walk with you. A promise given. A promise kept. A promise to be continued. Next Christmas, we are looking forward eagerly. But for now, a Blessed Christmas to you and your family. And to your amazing mother, thank you for trusting us and all your amazing work! Thank you for embracing the word ‘AUTISM’ when Psychologist Gerry first said it. After 3 Christmas, and all the ups and down, AUTISM now stands for, ‘A Unique and Tenacious Individual Searching for Manna’. Manna because:
1. What sustains us?
2. What gives us life?
3. Who loves us?
4. Who believes in us?
5. What do we want to believe in?
These questions and more have been asked when we see clients with Autism. But young A showed us his answers. Psychologist Gerry and Team TTR loves you!!! May you and your family have a beautiful Christmas! Thank you for bringing hope to parents struggling, therapists working with autism! There is hope! Hope. Trust. Love.

Merry Christmas to all!

Top 8 Tips to Manage Behaviour in a Social Setting


This week Little A was attending multi-activity programme at Camp Asia, which is a 1-week programme from 9am to 3pm. Activities vary every hour with the children participating in activities ranging from sports such as soccer, basketball, athletics, swimming to drama, art and cooking.

The first 2 days were uneventful but by day 3, he started to hit and push some children. We couldn’t hear his side of the story as he couldn’t articulate what happened. Here are some tips to manage behaviour in a social setting.

    1. Help others understand: Before the start of any activity, brief the instructor or facilitator on any sensory challenges eg. dislike loud noises, how your child communicates and coping mechanism. Some children have difficulty making themselves understood, so they use physical behaviour to express themselves such as hitting or pushing. In little A’s case, he was using this to make friends.
    1. Support effective communication: Some children have difficulty understanding what’s being asked of them, or making themselves understood. Even those who speak fluently may struggle to tell you something when they are upset or anxious. Speak clearly, use short sentences and not more than 2-step instructions. This can be accompanied with visual cues for visual learners.
    1. Help to identify emotions: Expressing emotions can seem abstract, so it manifests in undesirable behaviours in social settings. Some tools to turn emotions into more ‘concrete’ concepts could be using stress scales of 1-5, visual thermometer, or traffic light system to represent emotions as numbers or colours. Social stories can also be a useful way to explain how to manage a certain emotion.
    1. Praise and reward: Praise can be given when a desirable behaviour happens eg. when little A was sitting quietly and waiting for his turn at an activity, the teacher praised him and used him as a model for the rest to follow. Little A likes verbal rewards, while other children might prefer a sticker, or 5 minutes extra of doing a particular activity.
    1. Manage change and transition times: Prepping the child on what to expect during the activity, schedule will help to manage the anxiety that comes from the change and transition times. Using a visual timetable can often help the child see what will be happening. The facilitator can also explain what is the next activity.
    1. Find out if the child is being bullied: Speak with the teacher or facilitator to understand what was the social interaction with other children like before the behaviour took place.
    1. Offer a safe space or ‘time out’ area: Suggest to the child that if he/she wants to feel better, he/ she can sit at a quiet corner in the classroom.
    1. Generalise and maintain skills: Teach socialization and coping skills which can help the child manage in different situations. When certain behaviours happen, reinforce the skills by emphasizing what are appropriate behaviours.


Top 8 Tips for Less Stressful Transition to Primary 1

As your child begins a new phase of his/her life as a primary school kid, I would like to share some tips for a less stressful transition (for you and for your child) based on my experience.

  1. Self-care: Expect to hear complaints aka feedback from teachers as your child tries to adjust to the new school and environment. It can get stressful for parents and practicing mindfulness can help. One of the exercises I find useful is the 4-2-4 breathing exercise. Breathe in through the nose for 4 counts, hold the breath for 2 counts and breathe out through the nose for 4 counts. Do this for 10 minutes.
  2. Prepare your child on what to expect: Work closely with his/her therapist on what happens in school, how to pack the school bag.
  3. Visit the school: In addition to the orientation, walk around the school and show the  main places. If a walkabout is not possible, ask for permission to take pictures and talk this through at home.
  4. Share what your child is like: Create a 1-page profile of your child to include things like: What your child likes, how he communicates, how he learns best, what causes anxieties, how he overcomes anxieties, what can motivate him to learn.
  5. Establish 2-way communication: Find out who are the main contact points in school for matters regarding your child. Is it the form teacher, Allied Educator (AED) ? Have a common understanding on how best to communicate on a regular basis. My personal preference is through WhatsApp, if that’s not possible, use the email, phone calls, face-to-face meeting.
  6. Be open to feedback: It can be stressful hearing complaints from the teachers. Rather than looking at a glass half empty, look at it as half full. Once you see the ‘complaints’ as feedback on how to support your child, you and the teachers then focus on how to manage the behaviour. Key thing is to find the trigger for the behaviour.
  7. Reinforce positive behaviour: It can be discouraging when the child gets attention when he/she misbehaves. Find ways to encourage and praise when he/she is doing better each day.
  8. Set an after-school routine: Having a routine after school helps your child to feel more settled especially when homework is given. Ideally, homework should be done later part of the afternoon, so that there is sufficient rest and play time.