The Joy and Importance of Movement: Understanding the value of movement in Apple Montessori Schools’ infant and toddler classrooms.
There’s nothing more enjoyable and gratifying to watch than a young child absorbed in movement—reaching out with their hands and feet, rolling, crawling, walking, running, and dancing. After birth, a child’s actions indicate their natural need for independence by exploring, learning, and engaging in their environment, connecting both mind and body.
Studies prove that movement and exercise lead to physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development and strength. Dr. Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori philosophy of child development and education, believed that babies are born with “the psychology of world conquest.” Absorbing and mastering their environment fosters strength, intellect, communication, self-confidence, and independence.
That’s why freedom of movement is a critical component of Apple Montessori Schools’ childcare and educational programs for infants and toddlers. Starting with children ages six weeks to two-and-a-half years old, the Apple Montessori approach takes a holistic view of child development and education by focusing on the “whole child” through physical, academic, and practical activities in a healthy, safe environment. The Absorbent Mind by Dr. Montessori states: “The behavior of every individual is a product of his environmental experience.”
Research in The Power of Movement in Your Child’s First Three Years, from Zero to Three, further confirms the essential benefits of physical activity for supporting optimal child development and education.
Improves health. Children need to move freely to build healthy bodies and muscles and develop, stimulate and exercise the brain’s neural pathways. The ability to sit up, stand, and walk relies on the combined, progressive growth of the body, brain, and nervous system. As a child participates in new activities, the brain creates new neural pathways that get stronger with repetition. Studies also show that physical activity helps mitigate obesity and other health issues as a child gets older.
Enhances learning. Children exercise comprehension, memory, and problem-solving skills when navigating how to get what they want, whether it’s food, a bottle, toy, or book. At the outset, a child will develop a plan to accomplish their goal. Their hand and facial gestures can communicate what they want, or they can take it upon themselves to reach, grasp, roll, or crawl towards their objective. The physical actions lead to accomplishments, which boost self-esteem. Dr. Montessori strongly believed in helping children “do for themselves” to foster self-reliance, self-confidence, and independence.
Supports social and emotional well-being. Movement creates physical and chemical reactions within the body that promote happiness, contentment, calmness, and healthy relationships. Joining your child in activities is truly a bonding experience, nurturing trust, security, love, and wellness.
For infants, Apple Montessori values its Baby Yoga classes, providing floor exercises that encourage your child to lift, raise, stretch, and connect. Yoga is fun and helps strengthen core muscles and improve balance, flexibility, and coordination, as well as motor and social skills. Similarly, Baby Sign language enhances brain development and language skills, helping children communicate their feelings, needs and desires to people around them.
Increases creativity and imagination. Another vital benefit of movement for infants and toddlers is unleashing creativity and imagination. In the Apple Montessori classroom, freedom of movement is fundamental to developing independent, motivated students who want to learn and express themselves. Under a teacher’s watchful guidance, children are encouraged to explore their interests and select their activities. Without confinement, children are free to focus, create, and progress in their development and education as well-rounded individuals.
Encourages movement and exploration
Apple Montessori is an avid proponent of child-friendly classrooms designed for freedom of movement within a safe environment. Welcoming, orderly classrooms are free of restrictive baby furniture, including high-chairs, car seats, pack and plays, baby gates, and other accessories that inhibit movement. Furnishings and activity areas are well designed and well placed for children’s easy access and convenience, further fostering independent exploration and self-reliance.
More activities, more movement, more learning.
Children in infant and toddler classrooms enjoy floor time, tummy time, exploration exercises, climbing, dancing, and playtime. According to Dr. Montessori, “Movement has great importance in mental development itself, provided that the action which occurs is connected with the mental activity going on.”