Football! It is so much a part of English culture, and children love it…and so do we at St Andrew’s Montessori. At our school, football activities form an integral part of the Physical Development area of the curriculum.
Movement contributes to children’s fine and gross motor development, builds physical strength and stamina, enhances perceptual motor skills, attention span, improves circulation, and helps maintain muscle tone and thus postural control. Maria Montessori talked about a human’s tendency for movement; an inclination, a need, a strong desire to move and explore – she believed that movement is hardwired into us, we are born with it.
One way of expressing this innate desire to move is to kick a ball against a wall, or to pass it to pal in fun or in competition. One football coach wrote about how Montessori teaching influenced his coaching sessions. Inspired by Montessori’s inclination to allow children interested in a particular theme the freedom to explore this theme for as long as they need to – to follow their interests, wherever that passion leads; this particular coach changed the way he engaged with the children participating in his coaching sessions. Instead of running rigidly planned sessions that didn’t really allow little ones to pursue what they found fun and interesting, the coach deviated from the lesson plan by allowing a child immersed in the joy of passing the ball against the wall to continue to do so, and when children ask if they can play a match, he jumps at the opportunity rather than telling them that it isn’t part of the day’s plan (as he had previously done).
The football coach realised that children learn best when they are fully engaged in what they are doing, and not only that; repetition of movement is one of the keys for healthy brain development. So the child who was allowed to keep kicking the ball in the same manner would have benefitted hugely from this type of coaching.
As important as physical development is in the early years, we believe that it has to be motivated in a way that excites children and encourages them to keep at it. The children at our school relish the chance to be outside, learning ball skills and interacting with their peers and ‘coach’ (adding an additional social element to the learning area), whilst improving their motor, cognitive and emotional development without even knowing they are doing so.
To find out more about this area in our curriculum feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re happy to answer any questions.