Above you can see the 'walking line' that graces our atrium. We use the line to practice movement exercises such as walking, walking while carrying an item and to enter the classroom during a procession. Yes, I know, technically this tape isn't a line. It isn't perfectly straight and it doesn't go on forever! In Montessori nomenclature any tape on the floor (no matter the shape) is called the line. It took me a few weeks to get used to this.
In this post I talked about the sensitive periods for the young child. Movement is one of those sensitive periods that we take very seriously in the atrium. The children may practice walking on the line at any time (and many of them LOVE entering and leaving the classroom by the line), but all of the work in the atrium is filled with movement.
Any person who has had the most limited time with young children know their penchant for movement. Many never stop moving from morning to night. I can remember my youngest hopping, jumping, climbing and scaling everything. I don't think her really ever walked or sat still. Even while I read him books he was active, he did not sit quietly at my side. Yet, when I asked him about the story, he could always tell me.
Knowing that the child has a need for movement, everything in the atrium is geared toward this movement. Each child has the freedom to move from one area of the room to another at will. He or she can take out any work he or she has been given a lesson on. Each lesson consists of some type of movement (pouring, spooning, walking, etc.). Although we do not hop or jump or run in the classroom, we work on controlled movement.
These controlled movements transfer to the church. We will work on the sign of the cross, genuflection, the gestures of the mass (moment of Epiclesis or Consecration and the Offering this year). All of this movement also does something unexpected for the children: It helps them to sit still. The movement exercises in all of the other works assist the child to learn to control his body. As he gains control, we can present the more time consuming lesson that include Bible readings. It it will also assist the child in sitting through the Mass.
So the next time your young son or daughter wants to run, run, run......know why he or she NEEDS to!