Freedom of Movement

As children grow, they experience many developmental changes and milestones. As they reach each of these milestones, they begin a new stage of learning and development. Navigating these transitions can be tricky for children, families, whānau, and educators.
“Knowing about children’s development can help us understand how children respond to transition. In addition, when educators collaborate with families, they can learn how individual children experience change. Educators can also learn how to help children feel secure and comfortable during transition.”

Ko te Tamaiti te Pu – take o te Kaupapa
The Child – the Heart of the Matter
ERO, 2015

Learning how to move their body is one of the biggest and ongoing developmental challenges children face. From learning to roll from side to side, crawling, walking,
running and jumping, all requires development of gross motor skills, co-ordination, concentration, confidence and determination.

In order for children to master these skills, it is fundamental that they experience as much freedom of movement as possible during their day. One of the key principles of Dr Emmi Pikler was that infants are never put into a position which they cannot get into by themselves. This includes resisting the urge to prop infants up into a sitting position, before they have the strength to do this on their own.

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“Whilst learning to turn on the belly, to roll, creep, sit, stand and walk, (the baby) is not only learning those movements but also how to learn. He learns to do something on his own, to be interested, to try out, to experiment. He learns to overcome difficulties. He comes to know the joy and satisfaction which is derived from this success, the result of his patience and persistence.”
Dr Emmi Pikler

With a vast array of infant ‘equipment’ available on the market, it is easy to get confused as to what an infant may need. While there is definitely a need for this ‘equipment’ ie: a car seat while traveling in a car, sometimes it can be more about convenience as opposed to what is good for an infant’s development. As famously said by the Beatles, “All you need is love”, is actually quite true. All infants really need to foster their physical
development is loving attentive parents/whānau and caregivers, a safe space on the floor to explore how their body moves, and time.

According to Emmi Pikler, the natural rhythm of how nature intended an infant to learn how to move is;

  • Turning the head from side to side
  • Practices movements of the hands
  • Turns on the side
  • Turning on the belly
  • Turns back
  • Stretching
  • Rolling
  • Creeping on the belly and on all fours
  • Getting up into the vertical
  • Sitting
  • Standing up
  • Standing up alone – without holding on
  • Walking about on their own

Written by Rockmybaby

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