This is a blog post from my husband, who teaches movement (and writes about it occasionally) under the brand Evolve Move Play. I thought it was worth sharing:
Last week my family went to the Oregon coast.
At the beach my son encountered an estuary that fed into and mixed with the rising and falling ocean waves. This was a new experience, and he was enraptured, charging into it at full speed until he was swamped by the water, popping back up, with a huge smile on his face charging back up the beach, only to turn around and do it again. Over and over for twenty minutes he did this. I have rarely seen such pure unadulterated joy and for so long.
What wonderful movement nutrition he was experiencing, moving up and down slope, on changing surfaces, tensions of sand, feeling the resistance of water and its changing currents, the rapid change in temperature as the warm water of the estuary would be rapidly cooled by an incoming wave, and here and there moments where he was lifted by the water and had the first stimulations of swimming.
My wife was initially worried about letting him charge into the water, but each wave’s passing meant it was only briefly deep enough to touch his face, and we have been developing his mammalian diving reflex since he was 3 months old. I was there to catch him if he was overwhelmed, but every time he did get swamped he just came up smiling bigger than ever.
The surfaces and environments we move through are impoverished. We eliminate as many sources of challenge as possible and so increase our convenience. What we don’t notice is how we are removing our movement nutrition.
Small children are especially sensitive to this, a developing locomotive system that is only challenged by flat ground is like a developing a body that is only fed corn, it’s not going to develop optimally.
Children innately understand this and are intrigued by new movement environments and when they find a new and intriguing movement challenge they will want to repeat it over and over.
We need to recognize how we can support and keep them safe without limiting them and how we can follow their lead.