Sometimes the toughest part about teaching yoga is knowing what types of prompts to use to help your students learn the poses. There are four types of prompts I use when teaching yoga to kids with visual impairments.
While I can't tell you exactly what you need to say for every single student, for every single pose, I can tell you some of my teaching strategies when it comes to promoting your students.
Let's keep this quick and just get in to it, shall we?
Four types of prompts to use when teaching yoga to kids with visual impairments.
1. Verbal Prompts
Starting from the lowest level of intervention, which is also the greatest level of independence is verbal prompting. For example, you just tell the students, "Lift your arms up. Keep your elbows straight.”
The verbal directions give them the information that they need and they perform the task.
If they don’t, pair verbal prompting with one or more of the following types of prompts.
2. Sound Cues
A sound cue is a sound that you create that gives a cue to the student. You basically tap on something and that student listens to it and then they move their body in a certain way according to the direction. For example, if I say, "Lift your arms up," I might clap my hands or snap my fingers up above them so that way they hear where up is.
With sound cues, they are having to take in your information verbally and then demonstrate their comprehension with their body.
Modeling is when you do the poses and have the student either watch you, or feel your body part doing the pose.
For my students with vision, I get next to my student in a better lot part of the room. For my students without vision, I do the pose and then I guide them hand under hand and have them follow me to see what I'm doing.
This works exceptionally well, especially when you don't want to move the student's body and like configure them. When you want your student to be able to feel what you're doing and then them move themselves. Again, they have to take in the information, but this is giving them much more information, and then they move their bodies themselves. This is a really really good way to do that.
For students who are visual and they can see a little bit, I would make sure the lights are turned on, and then I would also still get pretty close to them, and then mirror them. If you are telling them to bring their right hand down, you will move your left hand down, so that way they don't have to figure out the laterality as well. That's going to depend on each student and your relationship with them. If they have to move their right hand down, you move your left hand down until they're just looking at it. They're not looking at it and then having to flip it in their head and then do it the other way. They can be more successful that way.
4. Physical Assistance
Then the last one, the fourth one that you're going to want to do is actually doing hand under hand and moving their body into the position. Sometimes our students are just not going to get it, especially the first couple of times that you do a pose, until their body feels the pose. You can go ahead and ask them if it's okay to touch them and bring your hand underneath their hand and actually move their hand to wherever it needs to be or you might be able to ask them if you can touch them and then tap their leg and say, "Okay. Move this leg this way," or help them move their leg that way. Also the same thing with their feet, if feet have to be in a specific place. In our yoga classes, the position of the feet, front, side doesn't always matter so much, but just as an example in case you did have to do something like that, that works really well.
How do you know which prompts to use at any given time?
I was talking with Linda Hagood one day and something she said stuck with me. She said, "Prompt once and then get it done."
If you think about it, a lot of these yoga poses, or especially if you use Yoga song are lasting less than a minute. You have less than a minute to get the student in and successful and out and move on to the next pose. One minute. That's not long. If the student doesn't get it when you say, "Lift your arms up,", then move to another level of prompting quickly. If you say, "Lift your arms up," and they're like out to the side, maybe their elbows are bent, then you might want to automatically switch to modeling or automatically switch to hand under hand.
Now, of course, with your routine you want to make sure that you're using consistent kinds of prompts until they're ready for the next one. If you don't know if your student is ready for just verbal prompting, what you might want to do is start your classes teaching a few of these poses until they get them and then add other poses later.
This way, you can practice the pose before you perform the pose. Essentially, you are giving the student enough time to learn the pose without music or breathwork and then time to be successful and practice it.
Try on these four levels of prompting and let me know what you think! Which ones do you find yourself implementing more than others?