True Montessori

Module 2: Child Development

Development of Movement

Development of Movement

There are two aspects towards independence. (Development of Movement)

1. Language
2. Movement

Dr. Maria Montessori says Movement is correlated with character not just with intelligence, but also with character. Language does not form character. Language is constructed in relation to intelligence. Development of Movement is correlated with unity of character. 

It is interesting to see what the child does himself when guided by the inner urge of nature. Nature urges the child at this age to imitate other people. She says that Montessori schools see that all children have a natural urge to perfect their movements, such as achieving equilibrium, with  exercises of practical work. From this we have seen that all development of movement must be related to some intelligent purpose. This is the right way to develop. We must understand this. Because we are materialistic in our ideas of how movement should develop, we see the body as machines in itself, and not as machines working together with the intellect. 

The child should have interest in purposeful work to build his intellect. Dr. Montessori, however, saw the relationship between the brain, senses, and muscles. She was a visionary and she thought it inappropriate to separate movement from intellectual development, and she did not agree with the idea that movement was only for strengthening the cardiovascular system. 

Montessori tells us in The Absorbent Mind that “Work is inseparable from movement.” And since the child’s work is to learn, we must incorporate purposeful movement into his learning. 

A child progresses from his birth in relation to movement. In 3 weeks the child is able to hold his head erect. At 3 months he holds his head steady. At 6 months he sits alone. When he is 8 months old he is pulling himself to stand alone. Around 9 months he is crawling. Between 12- 15 months he is walking. 

Birth to three he has acquired all movements. And from 3-6, the child is consolidating his movements. From being wobbly he becomes refined in his movements.

In man movement is not established at birth. It has to be perfected by the child’s activity in the world. Man’s movements are not fixed like animals. Animals cannot run backwards or jump or sideways. Man can do many movements which are flexible.

The child’s innate desire is to become independent. A child uses senses to explore everything around him. He needs opportunities in the environment to gain experiences for his inner development. The development of mind and movement go hand in hand. Through movement the child builds his intelligence. Movement is the foundation of learning. His child wants to be like us and hence  imitates us. He is attracted to movement. 

We are aware that a child moves in a mother’s womb. It is important that we allow the child to move freely, that is the movement of hands and legs even when he is newborn. He struggles to break away from the swaddling clothes. By keeping him tightly bound we restrict his movement. A child puts maximum effort into moving. Walking in a child is the same across all children in the universe but not so with the hands. The development of hands is guided by the act of the child. 

Dr. Montessori said there are two aspects to it. 

1. Development of equilibrium
2. Development of the hand guided by the mind

Both the aspects develop separately and serve different purposes. It is the eyes that guide the child in his early development. The organization of the child has 3 main parts. 

1. Brain
2. Senses
3. Muscles

Movement is the final result to which the waking of all these delicate mechanisms leads to his development. The muscles directed by the brain are called voluntary muscles which means they are under the control of the will.  

A child studies his hand a lot. He keeps observing and holding everything. His tendency to explore and curiosity should never be discouraged.  

We should remember work is inseparable from movement. Our life is bound up with movement. Our hands are connected with mental life. When we look at the beautiful things constructed by man or the paintings e.g. The Taj Mahal, the paintings in the Sistine Chapel or The Statue of Christ The Redeemed reminds us that it is the work of hands through intelligence.  

Above all we should remember that a child is endowed with an absorbent mind and he is attracted to movement. 

In Montessori education, the child is encouraged with movement as below: 

1. Freedom of Movement: Allowing the child to choose, explore, move, repeat without hindrance or restrictions allows freedom of movement. This encourages the child to move without objections and restrictions. Allowing them to do so builds a sense of trust and confidence in the child. This leads to independence. 

2. Purposeful Movement through Practical Life Activities: Practical life activities encourage movement for improving and refining the movement of hand and equilibrium. The preliminary activities, the care of self, care of the environment and outdoor activities encourage the child’s movement. Therefore one of the aims of practical life is refinement of movement. Maria Montessori calls it the work of the child. It provides opportunities for the child to work on gross motor movements. Walking on the line is one of the activities which overall works in the refinement of movement. This leads to order, concentration and independence in a child. 

3. It supports the sensitive period for movement through coordination of hands and arms, through carrying of water, washing of chowki, pincer grip movement, rolling and unrolling of mat, lifting and keeping down material. Montessori supports the child when he is in his sensitive periods through such activities. 

Also movement is encouraged through Sensorial activities. To allow touch, feel, experience and apply in the environment the child is encouraged movement. E.g. The bringing of the red rods to the mat and then tracing all encourages movement and builds his  intelligence. 

Role of an Adult: The adult should not object, refrain, obstruct, restrict the child’s movement. It should encourage movement. Allow the  child to handle fragile things. Treat him as an adult among you. Let  him repeat things. The adult should not stop the child from repeating  his movements. The adult should be a guide to help the child develop  his movements. Space restrictions should be avoided and a conducive environment to explore should be offered to the child

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Development of Movement

Child Movement Development

Montessori Child
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