ABOUT KIRA Willey
Hi, I'm Kira Willey. I bring music, movement, and mindfulness to kids, in lots of different ways: through my books and music, with my school programs and performances, and by working with educators and parents. Here’s why.
I believe kids are hardwired from birth to love rhythm and music. All young kids love listening to it, creating it, moving to it. Music is good for kids in so many ways: it engages them, calms them, gets them moving, and unites them. I think kids should be given tons of opportunities to experience live music—and hopefully take it up, because studying an instrument has incredible benefits for the body and the mind.
I believe kids need to move. A LOT. We all know exercise is good for us, but for kids—whose recesses are getting ever shorter—it’s absolutely essential. Not only for physical health, but because it helps their brains focus so they can learn. A quick movement break in the middle of a class is ten times as effective as trying to verbally convince kids to stop fidgeting. And one of the simplest, most beneficial, non-competitive—yet very athletic—forms of exercise is yoga, which is why it’s the focus of my movement programs. All kids can do yoga, even if they’re challenged or impaired in some way; it benefits everyone, and it can be done anywhere. Yoga improves coordination and balance, and increases flexibility and strength, all while helping to improve kids’ focus and concentration.
I believe that simple mindfulness practices are essential learning for our kids, who are growing up in a turbulent world. Their consumption of media is at an all-time high, and the pressures of school testing, packed schedules, and stressed-out adults around them can take their toll on children. And the more hours kids spend sitting, often in front of screens, the more disconnected they are from themselves. Simple—and fun—mindfulness exercises can help kids develop self-awareness, learn tools to recognize how they’re feeling, and teach them how to pause before reacting. They can also help kids release anxiety, improve their ability to focus, and develop compassion and empathy for others. What more valuable skills can we give them?
All of these benefits add up to what professional educators call Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). In layman’s terms, it’s simply helping kids learn to self-regulate and make good choices. Music, movement and mindfulness are incredible vehicles for SEL. So this is what I believe, and this is why I do what I do. Who's with me?
Music, Movement, and mindfulness
“Kira's work fits in beautifully with our goal of living healthier. It has had such a positive effect on our students' daily engagement, especially in keeping them focused, which in turn will help them in their lives. ”
— Sonia Vazquez, Principal, Donegan Elementary
Kira on The Peak TV
Her seven albums for kids have all won numerous industry awards and earned national acclaim; hit songs include “Colors,” which was featured in a worldwide Dell ad campaign. Every Voice, won Parents’ Choice Gold, and her single "Real Girl" won ASCAP's prestigious Children's Songwriting Award. Her most recent release is Songs for Peaceful Pandas, a two-volume collection of songs that pair with her book Peaceful Like a Panda.
Kira’s seven children’s mindfulness books include the bestselling Breathe Like a Bear, which has earned more than 6,000 five-star reviews and been translated into 17 languages. A companion book, Peaceful Like A Panda, with 30 all-new mindful moments proven to help children calm themselves down, let go of stress, and focus their energy, is available as well, and her latest book is Breathe Like a Bear: Back to School Worries, which was published in June 2023.
PBS TV affiliates nationwide air "Breathe With Me" and "Fireflies Yoga,” two yoga-for-kids programs Kira created and hosts; and her “Music You Can Move To” series with kids’ music superstar Laurie Berkner can be heard daily on SiriusXM Radio. She also co-created and hosts PBS' show Kids Jam. Kira’s TEDx talk, “Bite-Sized Mindfulness,” can be viewed online.
Kira speaks at conferences, leads Professional Development days and teacher trainings, and performs Rockin' Yoga Assemblies and concerts with her band nationwide. She’s also the founder of the singing-is-for-everyone experience, Choir & Company!