Today we hear a lot about “free motor skills” in children. Many structures welcoming children from 0 to 3 years old, such as nurseries and micro-nurseries which provide free motor skills. Many parents wonder and may jump to conclusions, such as letting the child do what he wants without necessarily supervising him. Through this article, I will explain to you what exactly free motor skills are, who discovered it, how to implement it at home and above all, explain all the benefits it brings to the child.
Zoom on free motor skills!
Doctor Emmi Pikler
Emmi Pikler was a Hungarian pediatrician (1902-1984). It was thanks to Emmi Pikler that the concept of free motor skills appeared. The doctor who ran a nursery in Budapest at the time (Loczy Institute) was convinced that children were able, thanks to their great sensitivity, to develop on their own, in terms of their motor skills. Emmi Pikler implemented the concept in her nursery and quickly realized that children’s motor development takes place without the hindrance of adults and is acquired by children in a completely natural way. Children can do things on their own and at their own pace, without the help of an adult, which promotes their self-confidence.
Thanks to his observations, his research and all his work, Emmi Pikler has allowed us to have another look at the child, who continues to evolve, also thanks to alternative pedagogy, such as Montessori pedagogy, which integrates perfectly the concept of free motor skills.
“Free motor skills consist in giving free rein to all the spontaneous movements of the child without teaching him any movement whatsoever”
The hindrances of adults in the motor development of young children
Adults, by simple reflex or by social pressure (feeling in a hurry; need for comparison with others…) tend to want to accelerate the learning rate of children, whether on the motor or psychological level. We are talking here about hindrance, because we do not respect the spontaneous development of the child at that time, when the child does not yet have control of himself.
Example: trying very regularly to put a child in a sitting position when he has never done so himself. Have the child walk by holding both arms. In short, “forcing” him, as if by thinking of helping him, he would end up getting there. However, the child evolves at his own pace and can only acquire this posture by training tirelessly again and again, by himself.
See as well : What is free motor skills? – By “La Maison des Maternelles”
The prepared environment (space and material)
So that the child can develop naturally on the motor level (but not only!), It is important to have a prepared environment: that is to say an environment designed for him, at each stage of his development. An environment adapted to its age, size and strength. It is important that everything is up to the child’s height, so that the latter can evolve in complete autonomy in the space which is dedicated to him. It is important that there is not too much material (it is better to favor rotations), as this can overload the child.
In the beginning, so that the child can discover the world, all that is needed is a carpet, and a few objects of different textures, placed at his disposal. It is preferable to isolate the qualities of the objects: that is to say not to present to the child an object which has only one criterion at a time: texture, sound, shape… So that it is time to ” learn about it and permeate everything at your own pace.
Baby’s position and behavior
Lying on his back, head resting, lungs free, the child is free to move his hands and feet. It is best to dress the baby in a simple, loose and light way so that he can be free to move around.
How the child acquires walking thanks to free motor skills
Within the structures that promote free motor skills, we can find specific educational material dedicated to young children (which you can also have at home), which they will be able to use spontaneously and independently, to acquire walking, to his rhythm.
Of course, all these discoveries and learning are always done under the watchful and benevolent eye of the adult who is behind the child to secure him and can intervene if the child is in difficulty but, by having this posture and This decline, the child is free to acquire when he feels the need, all these different learning by himself.
La bar fixed to the wall on a mirror – The child is installed on a mat and will be able, when he is ready, to grip the bar to try to stand up, then to move gradually. The mirror is important so that the child can observe himself and be aware of his body.
The cwalking cart that the child can push and that secures him because he is in a stable position, and thanks to this material, the child is not constantly dependent on the adult who holds him. During the first few uses, you can fill the small cart with a few more or less heavy objects to stabilize the cart even more if you wish.
The wooden staircase with only a few wide steps, and beam, much wider and much lower than a classic beam, which allow the child to work on his balance.
Even if, as I said above, the child does not need the adult to accompany him constantly in his discoveries, if you feel that the young child needs it, you can accompany him by holding the hand, as on the small wooden staircase, for example.
See as well : Long live free motor skills! – By “La Maison des maternelles”
Get the child to cooperate in certain everyday situations
Asking the child for small gestures in your daily life (putting his arm through his t-shirt when changing, for example) is a way of getting the child to cooperate and has several benefits for him, such as his motor development, because he gradually passes from an involuntary movement to a voluntary movement, but it also serves as a first step towards autonomy, by assimilating the everyday gestures that he can later perform on his own.
As you will understand, there are simple things to put in place at home to respect the child’s free motor skills, to let him acquire these many learnings at his own pace and without hindrance. The most difficult thing is to remove our adult reflexes, to take a step back from our own education sometimes, and not to follow a society which always goes too fast, which keeps comparing one another. Trust your child, take the time to observe him, to let him have his own experiences by being there for the security, and thanks to your posture, he will come out confident, grow, happy …