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Audit: Crawling & Bellycrawling

Educational Teaching Assistant, Infants School, Kirklees

We had 101 children in the unit, 10 were absent that day, so it is an audit of 91 children in Reception. Some were 4 and some were 5 years old. We wanted to see what they did with crawling and belly crawling, because you don’t notice these things usually. We planned to ask them to do a crawl and a belly crawl … and just see what they did. 


We asked them to crawl and belly crawl in groups of 6 and I observed and recorded. The children thought it was great fun because normally if they are on the floor they are told to get up. 


When crawling on hands and knees: 


91% could do the complete movement


3% crawled with their feet up in the air


3% used their arms and hands to pull them across the floor on their knees


2% did a one sided crawl


1% were on their knees but used their toes as well 


When belly crawling - tummies on the floor: 


4% could do the movement with their tummies on the floor 

3% could do the movement, but their legs were very wide


2% did the movement with a clenched fist


62% dragged from their upper body – they did not move their legs 

1% did the movement with their bottom up in the air 

1% outright refusal to belly crawl


We noted that we see very few children belly crawling.


In this group we have one child who is severely autistic. He did the completed crawl movement without any problems, but he refused to belly crawl. This child is not toilet trained. 


We have another child who has a lot of SEN issues. He did the completed crawl and when he did the belly crawling he dragged his legs behind him. He has problems with his bowels and occasional wetting problems. 


Another child who was very intelligent – streets ahead of everyone else in numeracy and literacy – didn’t do the completed movements in either crawling or belly crawling, which we might have expected. 


What happens next? These children have moved on into Year 1. We have a new batch of children – 50 at the moment – so we will audit again now and again at the end of the year and note any changes. 


We have an even mix of boys and girls and a culturally mixed class with no particular themes standing out for any one group. 


So interesting that such a large number of these children seemed to be early belly crawlers .. with plenty to find in their bodies.


Fascinating observation to kickstart more detailed noticing of these children’s movement. There is always more to see - and we always need open minds to lead further inquiry. Children’s physical development unfolds in direct connection to their unique life. Understanding physical development in wide ways enables us to notice and follow their unique pathway - and offer opportunities that help them to find all they need in their bodies to develop with maximum confidence ease and comfort. In whatever order the come to it …



On the DMP courses we talk about belly crawling and crawling amongst all the other early movement processes and patterns. We used to highlight them more than others; now they are simply in the mix with all the others. Both, of course, support and reveal aspects of children’s physical development. Bellycrawling involves lots of touch experience (especially on the front of the body surface; and reaching into the inside of the body, the bladder especially).  It also supports increasingly complex organisation of the spine and limbs. In crawling, a child starts to reaches out into the space around and pull their way out into the world.


Here, a Teaching Assistant gets interested in what she can see when she looks more closely at both.