Saturday Senses – The Sense of Movement

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I am amazed as I sit down to write about each sense how much there is to say.  I could write an entire book on each sense!!  The science of this sense could fill a week of posts.  There was no way to put everything in but I encourage you to google sense of movement to educate yourself on more of the science.   It is truly fascinating!  Here are a few tidbits.

The sense of movement is a huge part of our existence.  This sense is so important to the way we relate to the outside world.  It is also related to our experience of time.  Let’s define what is the sense of movement:

  • Clearly, the sense of movement gives us an awareness of our muscles and joints when we move and a sense of orientation in space.  It helps us know where we are.
  • It is all motor activity – standing, sitting, walking, running, jumping, skipping, writing, chopping, digging, carving, hammering, sewing, building – to name a few.
  • Developing this sense a child learns to: sit, push, crawl, stand, the ability to walk upright and speak the mother tongue. The development of thinking is interwoven in motor development.
  • The organ for the sense of movement is the motor nerve system of the spinal cord and the central part of the brain.  There are twenty pairs of nerves that emerge from each side of the spine that give us the sense of movement.
  • It also includes the movement of the eyes, head, neck and upper trunk.
  • It is kinesthesis, proprioception, muscle sense; the extension and tension in the body and the information communicated through the receptors in the joints to know where one’s body parts are in space.  (this is a huge field of study in and of itself!)
  • It is posture stability (tonic labyrinthine reflex).  Proprioception gives us emotional security as we feel safe when we can trust our bodies.  This sense gives us the ability to move into a situation – tactfulness.

On a deeper level the sense of movement is connected to rhythm.  The rhythmic movement of contraction and relaxation, shortening and lengthening of muscles.  The movement from one activity to the next.  The cycle of how we move through our days.  The movement from one place to another.  It is rising to meet the day and the resting as we fall asleep.  Rhythm is taking space and turning it into time.

It is in the sense of movement that the act of writing and reading arise.

It is in the unfolding of the motor abilities and skills that the soul finds aliveness!  The creation of sculpture, painting, drawing, writing, building, weaving, sewing, spinning – the list goes on!  It gives us the ability to be self-expressed!

It has been said that the sense of movement is the mother of joy.  “That moved me deeply” “I was moved to tears.”   Think of a very joyful kindergartener.  What do they do naturally?  They skip!

Impact on the Classroom:

The sense of movement is at risk in early childhood  Children need lots of outdoor time to run, jump, climb, dig in the dirt and all those movement activities that get developed in outside play.   There is research that points to the importance of large motor play for cognitive development (read the book Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not All in Your Head by Carla Hannaford).  Building the body’s capacity for movement is a developmental progression that begins with the infant ability to sit and continues to progresses to the ability to write and beyond.

Children are spending more time watching television, using computers, and using a whole host electronic devices and less time outside.  Children need large amounts of time to play freely inside and outside.  A rule of thumb is that children should not sit at one time longer than the doubling of their age.  In otherwords, a five year old needs some kind of large motor movement after sitting for 10 minutes. We build their ability to sit and focus slowly.

Think of movement as an inbreath and outbreath.   The inbreath is stillness or little movement and the outbreath is the active and lots of movement.   Think of your day as a breathing process:  ?
Arrival to School = Outbreath
Morning Meeting = Inbreath
Centers = Outbreath
Storytime = Inbreath
And so forth.
Create your children’s day to be a process of inbreaths and outbreaths.  If you see fidgeting and the difficulty paying attention (inbreath) – give the children large motor movement (outbreath).  This is one of the most important classroom management tools.  You can reduce a huge number of behaviorial issues by simply paying attention to the rhythm of movement in the school and how the children are doing.

A child who has difficulty imitating and pretend playing needs more large motor time outside.  The capacity to imitate is found in the sense of movement.

A teacher recommendation for preparing for your day in my Waldorf teacher training was to walk every morning.  This brings clarity and vitality to your thinking.  Some Waldorf kindergartens go for a walk the first thing in the morning.

This is just a beginning of the Sense of Movement.  I hope it gives you a feeling for what it is about and how it impacts the young child.  It is a very indepth sense that has much to tell us about children and their ability to learn.  It is so pivotal to early childhood.  I highly recommend as a teacher, to study this sense further.   I am currently writing an e-course that will touch more deeply on this sense as well, so stay tuned.

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Comments

  1. I am absolutely thrilled and excited to see your site. An Excellent resource and extremely uplifting to know there are early childhood educators who honor and respect children and their development. Thank you so much.
    Roseann/Little River School

  2. Thank you Roseann! I appreciate your kind words!

    Warmly,

    Sally

  3. Redbeet Mama says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Wonderful support you offer.

    Namaste, Nicole

  4. I love how you’ve explained how important movement is in the overall child education. A lot of awesome information for me. I’ve always noticed that D & M are calmer after a few ours of actual physical play and their ability to focus is much greater. The same thing goes for adults too, the days that begin with exercise normally turns out to be a day where we accomplish a lot. It all makes sense now!

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