Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Movement: A Link to Limits and Challenges

 "No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world." - Robin Williams


With all the focus on families and homes lately, it may seem as though we've let go of our past focus: movement. Of course, movement is an ongoing exploration for... well, for everyone. Babies begin discovering movement when they are still in utero. As we grow into wobblers, we learn to not only command the basic movements of our fingers and arms but how to balance and affect gravity. Toddlers focus their discovery on the cause and effect of their movements. What happens if I push my friend? What if I don't move out of the way for someone who is walking past? Can I sit on a dog/cat/baby? Children continue this discovery of movement into their adulthood and adults continue it until the day they die. How far can I push my body? When I reach that point where I feel exhausted from running/working/playing, can I catch a second wind? The questions change over time, but the intent is still: Where are the limits to what I can do?

We seek out limits for so many reasons. Limits are comforting. It's nice to know where the boundaries lay and what to expect. It also sets us up for success. Knowing that it's important for you to have at least X hours of sleep per night helps you plan your day accordingly. Understanding that your body will ache if you don't get in your daily run is important to your mental and physical health. Remembering that you like to have fifteen minutes to yourself in the morning before you start your day is important. Each of these little limits that we know about ourselves helps us to be the best version of ourselves.

It's more than that, though. It helps us to challenge those limits. This is why discovering movement is such an essential piece of childhood. For many children they don't just want to know where the limit is. They then want to ask themselves the most essential of all questions: Now that I know the limit, how can I challenge it? The weight and importance of this question cannot be contemplated on enough- for the child or for the adult. The way we challenge it depends greatly on the situation, but the challenging is a constant.
We stay up too late to see if our sleep cycle can survive a night that we don't want to miss. The toddler pushes his friend off the ottoman to see how their friend will react. The preschool tests the limits of their own body by jumping from the FOURTH step up instead of the second. Can I make it? Can I push myself that extra bit? This fairly simple opportunity to challenge a limit is how we build the confidence and ability to challenge the limits set around us later in life. 

I am so very, very passionate about encouraging children to be active participants in our community. To ask not only "What is the limit? Where do we draw the line? What rules exist?" but "Why? What's the logical reasoning behind this? Why not this other limit instead?" Most importantly, though, I hope they ask, "Can it be different than it is? Can it be better than it is?"

So, no, movement hasn't left our classroom. We are still discovering it, challenging it, and second guessing why it works the way it does.

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