- Associated Press - Sunday, December 13, 2015

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) - A Bristol teacher believes that learning the alphabet doesn’t have to be done the traditional way of reciting and writing.

Emmett Elementary School preschool teacher Deb Coffey teaches her kids their ABCs by doing yoga.

The poses are found in the book “The ABCs of Yoga for Kids.” Each letter has an object associated with it, like A for airplane pose and U for unicorn pose. Coffey has taught yoga in her classes before, but her current class is the first to be taught from the book.

“We’ve always done a lot of movement,” Coffey said. “It is just awesome because we have the pictures and the letters and it just brings it all together.”

Two of the students already know all of the letters in the alphabet, she added.

While learning their ABCs, they also learn about the human body - the importance of oxygen in the blood and getting oxygen to the brain, blood flow, heart rate and deep breathing and how it all functions together.

The kids love doing the yoga poses and on busy school days when there isn’t time for yoga they ask to do it, Coffey said.

Her students are in an early intervention preschool class to learn personal responsibility, how to get along with others, language development and to broaden their vocabulary in preparation for kindergarten. The preparation has successfully placed students in regular kindergarten classes rather than smaller, more closely knit classes.

“We do the academics, but if I can get them to get along with others, that’s the first step,” Coffey said. “They have to move. All young kids have to move, but these guys just seem to learn better that way. It just works really well with them; it helps them learn and helps them remember.”

One of Coffey’s students, Addison Offield, loves ABCs yoga so much she couldn’t wait until she got home to show her grandmother a pose when leaving school one day. She ended up doing the gate pose for the letter G on the school’s porch.

“I can tell that a couple of them obviously have been practicing at their houses because they’ll come in the next day and some of the harder ones they can do,” Coffey said. “They see it, they hear the rhyme … and then doing it kinesthetically, it just pulls it all together.”

Another student, Charlie King, said he practices at home. His favorite pose is the cobra for the letter C.

As for Coffey, she plans to continue the activity every year.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s fun, they have fun. It’s not your typical yoga class, but they enjoy doing it and they are learning.”

Music is also incorporated into the students’ learning environment.


Information from: Bristol Herald Courier, https://www.bristolnews.com

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