Tens of thousands of years ago, before our ancestors had written language, they danced. Why on earth did they do this? In a life very much focused on survival why waste time and energy dancing?
Many anthropologists believe that dancing developed along with the need to live in large groups. Larger groups were better able to defend themselves from the big cats or other hominds which might attack. The dancing was a way to strengthen the social bonds and develop group cohesion needed to establish and maintain these groups.
An important part of life.
In contemporary society spoken language is, of course, hugely important in helping to bind humans together, but maybe it is still dancing, or moving together, that does the deepest job.
This gives a whole additional reason to support children’s natural and spontaneous movement interaction - because it is one of the key ways they build their relationships, speak of themselves to each other and grow the bonds. These are their everyday dances.
In a Developmental Movement Play Area - very focused and entirely child-led - a lot of the play you see will be about social interaction, social negotiation and exploring relationship. These children know that movement is their most direct language, speaking body to body. And they know that they can be supremely articulate in movement, while their verbal language is developing alongside.
Annchi is in the Movement Play Area squatting next to Megan. She bounces up and down a little, stops and then Megan bounces just like Annchi - same rhythm, same energy.
They laugh and repeat. Then Annchi pushes up to standing, runs round in a circle and bobs down again. Megan does the same.
They laugh some more delighting in each other. Annchi launches herself on to her tummy and bangs her feet on the floor. Megan is right there. Together, they bang their feet on the floor in a rising crescendo. They wriggle, slither, bang … then tire and roll apart. Soon they run off to play with some painted stones across the nursery - totally taken up with one another.
To do a bonding job, this moving together needs to be intrinsically pleasurable. But in terms of our pedagogy, the children need to be focused on each other - not watching an adult leader. They need to be able to drink in the other’s body and movement - and create a shared rhythm, energy and body shaping. That’s what spoke directly to Annchi and Megan. They didn't need to think or speak in order to build the bond between them. They did it much more directly. Body to body.
It was so much more than a bit of banging about, or a bit of silly nonsense that took their attention away from some proper learning activity.
It’s easy to dismiss children’s movement as silly in this highly cognitively focused culture we live in. But shared rhythm, energy and body shaping are important and come in many forms.
Annchi and Megan’s movement play was rich Personal and Social learning.
Our early education culture is so focused on supporting the development of verbal speech and language we can miss the ways children develop articulate movement interaction.
Think what incredible skills our children could develop if we gave even half that attention to their non-verbal speech and language.
It’s a great reason to have an Indoor Movement Play Area as part of the provision on offer.