“Respect all the reasonable forms of activity in which the child engages and try to understand them.” ~ Maria Montessori, The Child in the Family

Children are born with innate urges to guide them as they gain control of their muscles and senses. Especially in the first three years of life, they are unconscious learners and work tirelessly toward independence. As they develop naturally, they learn to hold their head up, roll over, sit, crawl, walk, run and talk without any instruction or help.

Innate Development Needs Practice

Meanwhile, this innate development involves repetition. Their need to practice and move in a safe environment is great! This need can also be misunderstood by their parent or caregiver and feel somewhat manipulative at times. However, the child is almost always answering an innate and unconscious urge to master a new skill. As examples:

😭 The child may cry when they are confined to a stroller. Chances are they would prefer to explore the ground and practice walking. 👟👟

🧥It’s time to leave and they want to put on their own jacket—and take it off and put it on again. This may take extra time and patience but, they are likely focused on a need to dress themselves.

💡They want to turn the light switch on and off repeatedly. After all, they really want to understand how lights work …

Hands-On Learning

Beginning in infancy, the child not only has a strong desire to move about, they want to explore and touch everything in their environment. All the child is learning and discovering with their hands connects directly to their brain creating prolific neural connections. For this reason, Dr. Montessori stressed the need for the keen observation of the child as a means for understanding their actions. Once the child’s developmental needs are understood, the emotional and physical misunderstandings will lessen.

Prepared Environment

Safe outdoor spaces or playgrounds are often perfect for large movement and physical coordination skill building. An inside environment can offer opportunities to foster independence. Dressing areas, practical life home care, sensory activities, etc… The options are endless.

“When children experience pleasure not only from an activity leading towards a special goal but also in carrying it out exactly in all its details, they open up a whole new area of education for themselves. In other words, preference should be given to an education of movement: practical activities are simply an external incentive to the educational process, they provide a motive and urge the child to organise his movements.” ~ Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child

1 Comments on “Natural Urges Explain The Child’s Need for Movement”

  1. What a great reminder to remain patient and calm as this often exasperating “learning and exploring ” takes place! Allowing extra time before leaving the house makes sense.

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