Maria Montessori was concerned that preschool children, whose body proportions are still larger in the upper body, should be spared the rigors of strict physical workouts. She believed that a young child’s legs could be damaged by forced physical activity.
Maria Montessori’s basic recommendation was free play, which was a great way to help the child develop muscles and coordination and run off extra energy.
The main goal of physical activity is to help a child breathe properly and eventually help a child pronounce words correctly. One interesting note is that recent research links breathing and stuttering, and a part of the therapy is to introduce proper breathing techniques.
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that babies and small children crawled because their heavy upper bodies and large heads made it difficult to walk upright. Also, she noticed that preschool children often lay on their backs and moved their arms and legs about because it was an easy way to exercise their limbs without the stress of standing in an upright position. She believed benches should be provided for young preschool children to sit on whenever they were tired. She did not believe in pushing young children with forced activities.
Here are some ideas Dr. Montessori recommended at home for physical activity:
- Ladders (she used rope ones, but many modern slides and jungle gyms have great ladders).
- Trampolines-the original was a swing with a long bottom that kept the legs straight-the child would literally bounce off the walls. She wanted to make their knees strong.
- Low balance beams with a railing for a young child to walk sideways.
- Plastic ball with string attached (you can drill a hole and put in a butterfly anchor with string) hung from ceiling to hit with hand or a paddle.
- Round stairs that are marked with a pattern for a child to practice going up and down the stairs in a straight line.
- Stairs with a loft and a slide on the other side.
- Tree houses with ladders
- Monkey bars or jungle gyms
Montessori did not require a gymnasium for preschool children, though she was at first criticized for providing them. The main physical activities should be the ones that a child could do later in life, such as hiking, swimming and cycling.
Our goal at New Generation Montessori Children’s Academy is to guide children to their full development and toreach their full potential!