children + movement from the ground up

The work of children to learn movement, to coordinate their arms and legs to move themselves forward, to gain muscle control, to keep their head up while in motion, to establish a sense of balance and .... well, there is so much learning going on in every moment for very young children.
Quite impressive, really.
Rowan on her own adventure in the park with dad John and pug Stella up ahead.
My college friend Jennie posted this photo on a social media site of 14 month old daughter Rowan. Jennie shared that Rowan, dad John and pug Stella were at a local park. When John went ahead to catch up with Stella, Rowan took the initiative to catch up with them. Jennie took this wonderful shot of Rowan's adventure forward.

Appreciate the WORK that Rowan initiated for herself to cross this field.
The photo struck me from an early childhood educator lens in 2 ways.
First, I was in awe of Jennie's perspective taking to give Rowan the focus, her left arm in grand reach motion, her back right leg seemingly just slightly in motion as well. Dad John and pug Stella are blurred in the background yet clearly the goal for Rowan as she tackles crawling one arm/leg combo at a time. How far does Dad and Stella look to Rowan - a football field away?

Arm, leg, head up, hat on, and In Motion.
Second, I was struck simply by Rowan. The photo really allows me to appreciate - to almost feel - the effort required by a 14 month old to move across the grass field. Think about what Rowan might be thinking: I want to be with my dad and dog. Think about what Rowan might be feeling: With every movement, her knees and shoes and hands FEEL the cool grass, the tiny flowers, the clumpy dirt, and any other obstacles that anyone who is not crawling would not feel. The smell of the grass deepens with every movement. Think about if your own head was merely a foot above the ground, straining to look up and forward, to keep that neck muscle working to keep the body in position to move forward. Wow. I am a little exhausted just thinking about attempting this in my 40+ year old body!

This photo made me think about how each young child is really on their own "independent study" as though in graduate level course work at a university:
  • Each child is on their own to feel motivated, to be allowed freedom to move, to test out their body's abilities, to engage in their family life in the way that they can at their age and developmental level.
  • No one can "teach" Rowan to crawl across this grass field nor motivate her to do so.
  • No one can teach Rowan to coordinate left arm with right leg, then the opposite.
  • I love that Rowan has her freedom to GO in order that she can do her own needed work from the ground up.

Quite impressive, really.

As Rowan moves forward in her abilities, she'll be able to establish more complicated ways of engaging with the ground. Here are "future" possibilities for Rowan as development and peers and tools are incorporated:

1. Maybe Rowan will want to stand and play with water and share with a friend.

2. Maybe Rowan will want to crawl under and across a parachute!

3. Maybe Rowan will run and capture a parachute in motion with friends!

4. Maybe Rowan will run with a hula hoop in motion and try to capture the hoop or even dive through it on the field!

5. Maybe Rowan will try on 2 hula hoops, put her hands in the air and put her whole body in motion to get both hoops in motion! [wow!]

BEING IN MOTION is amazing, complicated and healthy.
However, LEARNING TO BE IN MOTION is quite an incredible journey from a very young age and requires time and time and time to give it a GO.

MANY THANKS to Jennie, John and Stella the pug for being part of this blog post today. My special thanks to Rowan for inspiring me to appreciate the joy of learning to be in motion from the ground up. 
Quite impressive, really.