As promised here is an article on Movement and its importance in the development of the child.
How many of us remember hearing “Stop moving!” ? You did, didn’t you ? Either someone said it to you or you heard someone say it to a child at the park, at church, at the theater, in the car….
Movement is natural, it is a Human Tendency. We are born with the need to move, moving helps our mind grows and learn, we learn so much through movement and children even more than anyone else.
“It’s only by movement that the personality can express itself. The greatest of philosophers must use speech or writing to convey ideas and this involves muscular movement.” Maria Montessori
Movement is created from the work of three important parts: brain, senses and muscles.
The brain gets messages from the senses (organs) and then the brain gives orders to the muscles as the nerves pass the energy that will help control the movement of the muscles.
There is movement within our own body even if it does not show from the outside, our cells move, our nerves, our muscles, our blood in its vessels are all in movement as we are alive.
Maria Montessori also talks a lot about how we cannot separate the physical movements from the mental activity since the coordination of muscular movements comes from the brain. Muscular activity and mental activity work for each other.
It even goes further as a “two-way process; myelinization creates movement, but movement also increase the formation of myelin, so the more we allow our child to move the more we are supporting optimum development.” The Joyful Child, S.M. Stephenson
How can we use that to help children? We can give them activities, movements to do that involve brain work as well. What we offer should be purposeful, if there is no purpose then movements do not coordinate.
It also depends on the environment we create . Through fostering repetition of actions (like children do a lot when they are learning) in the environment, we help the child acquiring skills and knowledge. It should be satisfying for the child.
So in a Montessori classroom /environment/home, the child is allowed to move and is asked to move but is also guided by the adult to help her feeling fulfilled by her movement (if your child is in a Casa environment you might have heard about distance game for example, it is used in Sensorial activities and involve the child working in movement).
HOW can I HELP my child control his movements ?
You can give the child specifics about what you expect from their movement – “Control your movement or your body” “Stop moving!” does not mean anything.
If you can, say: “Walk slowly! … Please sit down!” as it uses more positive verbs, keeps it simple for the child and gives specifics about what you are expecting.
An important note on that is about making sure the child knows why you are asking this control of movement from them. If there is no purpose, there is a small chance it will happen. With purpose, it can come from within the child.
At Chez Mahé, the children are still considered babies or very young toddlers and they are in a very important phase of their development of movement as they are learning how to crawl, stand and walk. We do not ask them to stand up or walk because at that age, movement should be fostered from their need to move and progress in the development of their gross motor skills. Each child has her timeline and even if we would love for our child to reach certain milestones, it will feel even better if it comes for the child herself instead of led by the adult. It fosters Independence as well.
We watch them progress and once a milestone has been achieved we can foster activities to master this skill even more.
As they will grow older, we will foster activities for more precise movements and we will be able to ask for more control of the movements (Walking on the Line, Silence Game, Distance Game, bring me game…)
What do you do to foster movement for your child ?