Jane Davis-Munro, co-founder and Artistic Director of Pegasus Studios, has been teaching children dance, music and art for over 34 years. Through her extensive and continued research and training in working with young children, Jane has learned the importance of movement for children. Jane has put together some of her research to give us a better understanding of why the young child needs movement.
Movement is life. The human body begins movement at conception and continues in some form until death. The young child uses movement to explore and experience their environment and therefore it is one of life’s primary tools for learning. To ask a child not to move is to ask them not to breathe.
New research in the development of function of the human brain is reinforcing the importance of encouraging movement activities for young children. The more movement the more efficiently the brain becomes at processing motor responses. Children’s brains exercise three major steps when formulating movements;
1. The brain selects an appropriate cue and then forms a mental picture of the desired outcome.
2. This information is integrated with past experiences so that they can form a strategy.
3. The brain forms a pathway that gives feedback about the appropriateness of the mental image and the selected plan.
Once the plan is in place an opportunity to practice the skill is necessary to increase their efficiency. This is not as time consuming and complicated as it sounds, but when children are given the freedom to move, the brain becomes efficient in procession these steps. For example, when a child masters how to move in a specific space allocation, he has also learned about concepts of space, shape and abstract thought.
Early childhood is not a time to be limiting movement experiences but involving children in opportunities to develop creativity and expression through movement and music.