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Do You Value Movement?

Fairly often, people will ask me "How do you get Gus to sit still and work?" or "do you have any tips for getting my child to stop moving around and work?" My answer is often the same or similar, a simple "I don't." I don't make my child or want my child to sit still. Sometimes he does - on his own. But, mostly he doesn't. AND THAT'S PERFECT! 

Movement is so underrated in our society. We want the littlest guys to sit still and work. We want our preschoolers to sit even longer. And, don't even get me started on the expectations for stillness that we have from our elementary aged children. Children are not meant to be still. In fact, it's just the opposite. Children are meant to move. And the younger they are, the more movement they need to absorb and learn from their environment. 


Let's look at what  Maria Montessori had to say on this topic: 

"Movement is the last part that completes the cycle of thought, and spiritual uplift is attained through action or work." Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

"At this period of his activity the child is a great walker, in need of long walks, and adults insist on carrying him...so the poor child can walk only in imagination. He cannot walk -- they carry him; he cannot work -- they do it for him." (She's referring to a toddler around 18 months here) Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

"When he things, he is not allowed to use his hand; but nature shows that the child cannot think without his hands, and that he needs to be continually walking about...Movement and the mind go together yet many think it impossible to have a school where children study, but continually walk about." Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

"This is the education of movement...and education through movement." Maria Montessori, Speaks to Parents

"This is the new education of movement, and in the child's home life the same principles should apply. The child who has to sit still listening to a teacher is in the worst possible state of mind and body for learning. Likewise , the child whose life at home is strictly ordered according to the convenience of grown-ups without knowledge or consideration of the natural movement and active interest of childhood is in the worst possible state of mind and body, either for obedience or good manners." Maria Montessori, Speaks to Parents

"We see the child who is freely active change in character. Movement is correlated with character -- not just intelligence." Maria Montessori, The 1946 London Lectures

"We can have activities for children that will develop their bodies instead of gym. these activities have a purpose, and permit movement, and so they help in the development of character." Maria Montessori, The 1946 London Lectures

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Gus is playing on our new indoor swing, found here

I literally could go on and on with quotes from Dr. Montessori. These are just a few example from THREE books. Every single Montessori text I have read mentions the importance of movement. Movement is so integral to life, to freedom, to happiness, to passion, to intelligence, to joy. I have said this before, and I will say it again. Movement is vital. Movement is more important than still. 

So, as parents, as a society, we need to shift our focus away from still. My child looks still because of a picture, or a small video clip. But, stillness is not my goal. Stillness can come from concentration. But SO CAN MOVEMENT. There is so much concentration in movement. We need to learn to value and recognize it. 

A look at the importance of movement in Montessori and for all children

Switch your perspective on movement. Don't look for ways to keep your child still, but look for ways to help your child's movement. Look for ways to make movement practical and purposeful. Engage your child in real work, purposeful play, and concentrate through movement. Don't judge movement as an inconvenience, or a sign that your child is lacking. This is what your child needs. Create an environment that allows it to happen. 

Do you value movement? 

A look at the importance of movement in Montessori and for all children


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Comments

Sarah Weiner said…
Any thoughts about movement while eating? I'm trying to have my 20 month old sit at her little table during meals, but she likes to get up after almost every bite! Maybe she is still getting used to the new freedom.

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