Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Encouraging Motor Skills Development in the Montessori Classroom

NAMC Montessori classroom motor skills development girl rolling mat
The education of a child’s physical movements is very complex . . . The child, if left without guidance, is disorderly in his movements. These disorderly movements are typically the special characteristic of the young child . . . he “never keeps still,” and he “touches everything.” This is what forms the child’s so-called “unruliness” and “naughtiness” in formative years.
- Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook. Putnam: New York. 1965.

Montessori was a firm believer that, from birth, children should be free to move and develop their physical movements. She advocated for not confining children to playpens or highchairs, but rather, to encourage independence and awareness by providing child-size furnishings for even the very young. Montessori recommends that an adult help the child learn orderly movements so that as they grow older, they gain more control over their bodies.

Montessori lessons are themselves, a guide to movement. In the Children’s House, children are taught precise and orderly movement when they are introduced to a lesson. These movements include:

Encouraging Motor Skills Development in the Montessori Classroom

  • how to choose a mat from the basket
  • how to carry the mat
  • how to unroll the mat on the floor
  • how to choose material from a shelf
  • how to carry the material to their mat
  • how to set up the material on the mat
  • how to complete the work
  • how to return the work to the shelf
  • how to roll the mat and place it back in the basket
Children at this age (3-6) learn these tasks easily and take pride in their ability to do so independently. They perform them over and over with a sense of accomplishment. As demonstrated above, the Montessori child needs to have space in order to move and work. Some children enjoy working on the floor on a mat that clearly defines their space while others prefer to work at a table. Some work lends itself better to tables, such as pouring activities. Still other work should be done while standing, such as washing dishes or painting. It is through this continual movement that motor skills, both large and small, and their minds develop.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, April 1, 2009.

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