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Motivation, movement and memory

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

When Nellie made a realisation….

November 2019

Author: Kelly Goodsir

Child: Nellie Millar

Age: 6 months

It has been fascinating watching you progress over the last few weeks with mastering your movement Nellie. It is almost like you have come to realise that it is you who actually controls your body! I can see this has been a guiding force for you when it comes to ‘reaching out’ for things you want. You are spending more time persevering and have decided that making a noise to gain help is no longer necessary – except when it is impossible!

Recently when we went to the park on an excursion, I managed to capture these photos of you that really highlight your skills with knowing your body, how to twist and turn and move yourself closer to an object of interest – in this case a tennis ball. Only a slight distraction to taste it before dropping it offered you a modest challenge in trying to retrieve it. Seems simple enough. The perseverance and body memory needed to navigate, stretch, twist and pull really showed your strength and determination.

What a delight to watch you master this!

Whilst not as comfortable getting from the sitting position to your tummy it did give you better leverage to reach for the ball!

What learning is happening here?

It is so easy to take for granted the power of movement in a young baby and Nellie reminds me of the significance of this milestone and all the energy and effort that it requires to get moving.

Significant learning that is taking place includes experimentation with: balance, momentum and stretching. Emmi Pikler in the Development of movement stages highlights the importance of stretching in a child’s development. Through stretching, the spine becomes straight and the trunk becomes elastic, flexible and muscular. It is important not to rush a child through this important exploration, allowing the child time and space to experiment through trial and error.

Nellie is testing her abilities to integrate her physical self with her intellectual and emotional self. The experience of reaching for an object offers such rich learning for Nellie!

(EYLF: Outcome 3)

What possibilities for support or challenge can we provide?

I can see our sensitivity to Nellie’s attempts and struggles to move will be important moving forward so she is supported and feels successful. Tuning into what motivates her is going to be critical to knowing when to step back and allow the struggle and when to intercede and support more directly. Time of the day, sleep, nutrition and mood will all weigh in on this on any given day.

I’m excited about the possibilities on the horizon for Nellie as she comes to realise her newfound potential!

I wonder what is just around the corner.

Reflections on Nellie’s movement

February 2020

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly a young baby can master something so complex. Learning to move, master movement and develop complexity occurs so quickly for the youngest! It is a reminder of why the first 1000 days of a child’s life are so critical in their learning compared to any other time in life.

Sometimes there is discomfort in learning and we must recognise the importance of this struggle and what it teaches the child in this time. In this case Nellie struggled through reaching for the ball with both her physical and intellectual self – she repeated this on a number of occasions as she had a strong desire to ‘get places’, whether that was to reach for a ball, to reach out to a person or to find more comfort from an awkward position she found herself in. These became great motivators for her body to use its memory of movement and develop more complexity – it is no surprise that she now pulls herself up on furniture and potentially starts to look for new physical opportunities……I wonder what these might include!

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