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  • Writer's pictureJabadao

Forget movement, think sensation

The Feeling of Me is one of four Developmental Movement Play courses we offer. It's the one that looks at the detail of sensory development and explains why this is such a huge part of physical development.

It starts with a module called Forget movement, Think sensation. This is why …

When we are born, we have no consistent feeling of being a body. We have to build it. You all have a brilliant, moment by moment, map of the feeling of your body that sits underneath everything you do, and  amongst other things this enables you to control your movement. We all take this awareness pretty much for granted. 

Let's test it. If I say, without moving, take your attention to the bottom of your spine … the souls of your feet … the back of your neck … your left elbow (that might be a problem to some of you working out which is left and right!) … the back of your right knee … you can do this pretty well.  One or two of them may have given you a little pause for thought, (body thought that is), really pulling them into your awareness. If I give you a hard one to do, (and of course everyone's hard is different), how do you do? Try the bit between the bottom of your neck in the middle of your back. You may need to wriggle a little to find this one.

The movement helps you find it because as you move you get more information. If I say take your attention to the top of your right hand between the wrist and the fingers, it may be easier if you stretch our hand a bit, or give it a rub - and then hey presto you have more awareness of it.

A baby, a small child, has to build this awareness all over their body; build the feeling of being a body. And build it so strongly that is stays around no matter how busy they are in their body or their brain. This is the core of the feeling of me.

How does it work?

A lot of the moving that young children do isn't so much about the action - learning to reach out to grasp something for instance - it's about the sensation. And sensation is information that gradually builds into familiar and recognisable experience.

So young children spend a lot of their time moving in ways that will create this information. They wriggle and jiggle, kick and wave, roll, slither, and writhe. And later, jump and swing and run and throw themselves about to create a rich diet of sensation experience that tells them about the feel of things in a huge variety of situations.

In our culture, this kind of movement can look like a distraction from more purposeful learning. We can shut it down for children - distract them into focusing on a movement activity. But until children have enough sensation experience in the bank to get The Feeling of Me, they will always be compelled to top up. With some more wriggles and jiggles. Leaps and bounds. We need to make sure our children have as much opportunity as possible in the early years.

So in this course we are really bigging up what we call Sensation-Driven Movement, because we want you to notice it and recognise the job that it does, valuing it as an important part of physical development. 

So here’s something practical you can do.

Start looking out for Sensation Driven movement. Wriggles, jiggles, children moving at the same time as doing something else. Movement that might be satisfying a sensory function rather than achieving a motor task. As long as it is safe, take time. Watch it in detail, really getting to know some of the ways children move to create sensation - build the Feeling of Me. 

We do lots of detailed thinking about the different ways children build their sensory foundations - and why - in The Feeling of Me course. 25 short films (3 - 7 minutes each) that unpack the importance of developing the body senses - sometimes called the inner senses - alongside the senses you are used to working with.

We start with touch. 

For now, start looking out for sensation-driven movement in a new way.

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