How can I use Pilates with my primary school children?

Benefits, hints and tips on using Pilates with your class

We are super passionate about supporting teachers just like you, who are either looking for easy ways to get kids moving more in the classroom, or want to feel super confident teaching tricky subjects like Dance or Gymnastics.

Today we are focusing on how to teach Pilates to primary aged children with confidence, even if you don’t have any experience with it.

How much do you know about Pilates and the benefits for kids?

How do you feel personally feel about teaching Pilates to kids?

Wherever you are this session will give you the tools to feel super confident delivering Pilates activities to any age group.

imoves has developed an easy process to understand why kids should do Pilates, we focus on 6 key areas that include;

Watch the video for an insight into the benefits of using Pilates with you Primary School class, and get some top tips in actually using Pilates whether that's as part of your PE lessons to help the children build core strength and flexibility, and to use it to support mental wellbeing for Mindfulness.  

Remember to join in so you can feel the benefits of policies for yourself.

 Let’s look at Core Strength first.

When you think about Pilates you immediately think about Core strength – it’s one of the most talked about buzz words at the moment.

It’s not about getting abs or a 6-pack, that is something entirely different, it’s about the muscles that support the trunk and the spine and the shoulder girdle – sometimes called the “Upper core”.  The easiest way to look at this is to look at the signs of poor core strength.

Encourage them away from this type of position as not only does it stop the core musculature from activating efficiently, it is damaging to the ligaments in their hips and knees and can cause long term problems into their teens and adulthood.

Try to encourage them to sit cross-legged instead. Think about the children you teach and how this relates to them.

Children with additional needs often present with these indicators so Pilates can have a massive impact on them and really help them to improve. We will look at the Pilates 100 as this is one of the best-known exercises to improve Core strength.

I am going to show you how you can teach this really easily to your class and get some great results.

We use videos to demonstrate the moves and the children follow along, learning the moves.

We then put all the moves they have learned into a fun theme with an exciting story so even the most reluctant exercisers will join in!

Here is the 100. (Play video) You can also use flashcards with lots of helpful information on there.

Lots of Pilates exercises build core strength and using these tools they are so easy to deliver safely and effectively.

Now let’s look at moving the spine.

When we sit for long periods of time the spine is held in one position (usually flexed forwards), the shoulders are hunched and the neck is held in a strange position.

Think about if you go on a long journey in a car or on a plane, for a couple of hours, how uncomfortable you get and how stiff and tired you feel when you finally start moving again.

This is how children feel if they sit in their chair for too long. Moving the spine has amazing benefits for the body and for the brain.

Crossing mid-line activities, rotating the torso, develop complex movement patterns so that the brain can process movements that involve the hands working on the opposite side of the body. Things like getting dressed and tying shoelaces and using forehand and backhand movements with a racquet.

 These are the spine movements we use and do them as often as possible and keep moving between them frequently.

All these positions can be done standing, seated, lying on your back, lying on your front, lying on your side and kneeling on hands and knees

Let’s practise those now.

Seated first: 

Now standing:

Neutral spine where the spine is in its natural alignment

How can you fit more spine moving activities into your day?

Now let’s look at improving Physical Literacy.

This is another one of the most talked about buzz words at the moment – but nobody seems to know exactly what we mean when we say physical literacy.

Physical Literacy can be described as the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.

From the International Physical Literacy Association 2017, "The most significant window of opportunity for children to develop their Physical Literacy is between the ages of 0 and 7 years old."  This is why it is so important for children to work on these skills as early as possible so that they are embedded and secure by the age of 7.

Let’s look at the components of Physical literacy:

Now let’s see how each of those components fit into the overview:

All these components can be measured and assessed.

Pilates based activities are amazing tools for Developmental Movement Intervention – for children who need extra help with fundamental skills.

Because it is so important for children to work on Physical Literacy skills as early as possible so that they are embedded and secure by the age of 7, we have integrated our phonics program with Pilates activities which has many great benefits and ticks lots of boxes!

Active phonics learning – being active whilst learning helps with focus and memory and can speed up the phonics learning process.

It also contributes to the 30 minutes of activity per day that they need to achieve in school.

Pilates moves have added benefits that other activities don’t have as we have seen already and can help to ensure physical literacy is embedded and secure at an early age without spending any extra time on it.

Pilates and phonics is a powerful learning tool and helps children of all ages and abilities.

Here is an example:

Our resources provide lots of opportunities for children to build core strength and improve motor skills in a fun, engaging and safe way.  

Let’s take a look at mood management.

Children often need help with adjusting and managing their mood and exercise really helps with this. Exercise releases serotonin into the brain to improve mood, reduce anxiety

Pilates exercises in particular are energising, calming and relaxing, non-competitive and fun.

An activity that is totally inclusive and where everyone can achieve.

Lots of our Pilates active blasts are done in the classroom in and around chairs so no need for a big space, a PE kit or a mat.

Children who are body conscious or anxious about exercise are more likely to participate in a short burst of activity in the classroom. Here is a Pilates in the Jungle activity.

Play video

Now let’s take a look at Mindfulness.

Another buzz word that is around at the moment but people are very unsure of the meaning.  Mindfulness is: The ability to be FULLY PRESENT, aware of WHERE we are and WHAT we are doing, and not overly reactive or OVERWHELMED by the world around us.

Mindfulness stretching exercises release endorphins into the brain to improve mood, they are calming and relaxing.

We also use breathing exercises to take time for yourself and explore how you feel at that moment.

Here is a video of calming Pilates mindfulness stretches and breathing exercises.

Play video

Think about where a calming Pilates stretch would fit into your day?

The list is endless and every teacher will find a different way to fit mindfulness stretching and breathing exercises into their day to suit them and their class.

So we have looked at the benefits of Pilates for children and I’m sure you are now really clear on why they definitely should all be doing Pilates exercises , no matter what age they are, every age group can gain massive improvements in many different areas.


I know you will have questions, doubts and worries.

All teachers do.

Here are some of the problems that teachers asked us about, and our solutions to those problems.

I’d love to do Pilates with my class as I know it will help them in lots of ways - but I haven't got time to prepare new Pilates resources.

Some teachers also felt that they didn’t feel confident creating resources that were accurate to the Pilates method whilst remaining safe and effective.

Well don’t worry.  imoves has created a package of resources that are safe for children, effective and true to the original Pilates mat work exercises.

The Pilates active blasts are done in the classroom in and around chairs so no need for a big space, a PE kit or a mat. They last around 10 minutes and can be slotted in at any time of the day. Age appropriate fun themes and music with a colourful engaging video to follow. Just load it up, press play and off you go.

There is also a PE programme to be used when you have more time and space.

Each year group has 2 schemes of work but can be interchanged to suit the interests of the children.

Each scheme of work has 2 lessons which progress and finish with a performance of the themed Pilates sequence of moves to music.

Included in each scheme is an interactive movie. This features the performance at the beginning of the movie followed by a breakdown of how to do all the different Pilates positions and how to theme them for the scheme.

I don’t know the moves. How will I know if they are doing it correctly?

Use the videos to teach the moves to the kids and the information on the flashcards gives you lots more information on how to do each move correctly.

They can even teach each other the movements using the flashcards.


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