We used to spend a lot of time stopping them ...

March 13, 2018


Here's another piece from our archives. These little articles are taken from the Developmental Movement Play Journals, beautifully created by Sandy Crichton, that we produced between 2002 and 2009. They are all written by early years practitioners and intended to be simple, short and very practical. Since they are old now - and many people will have moved on - we will anonymize them. But they are still available in the original Journals from the JABADAO shop.


"We used to spend a lot of time trying to stop the children exploring their natural desire to move because we considered it to be dangerous ..."



Before we embraced a DMP approach in our setting, indoor movement play activities were very adult-led and structured.


Practitioners believed that this was important for children’s safety. They said it was easier to control sessions indoors when children followed a prescribed routine and that high-energy movement, like pushing and pulling, was appropriate outside, not inside. They also felt that restricting high-energy movement in some situations, but allowing it in others, for example, in a movement area, might be confusing for younger children.


Outdoor play was largely seen as a chance for children to ‘let off steam’. Practitioners saw indoor movement play as a way of occupying groups of children on a rainy day. This meant they were often trying to manage larger groups than was practical.


Action research question

With the aim of changing the kind of support our setting gives to child- led movement play, I formulated this action research question to guide a period of change. ‘How can I encourage my colleagues to support more child-led movement play indoors?’


Taking action

We started with team discussions about the ideas behind the approach and why it is beneficial for children. I also actively encouraged more child- initiated movement within the continual provision for the toddlers. The team took on the new ideas and we started to support a different sort of movement play; children are now encouraged to explore their own movement agendas - with open-ended resources and music providing varying beats, tempos, moods and cultural influences. We regularly include movement play sessions in the planning for individual children’s next steps.



The Findings


For children

• the children really enjoy DMP sessions and regularly ask if we can tidy other resources away so they can dance, spin, jump and move. They are more physically active and confident - indoors as well as outdoors - now

• they are more confident about moving in the way they want to
• they also show a good understanding of how to keep safe while exploring the movement they want to do


For practitioners

• key workers say that their relationships with their key children are developing into closer, more trusting partnerships now they are using movement play as a means of communicating and building relationships

• within the provision for toddlers we are more relaxed in our practice and feel better able to justify to parents and carers and other practitioners why we encourage children to take part in movement play opportunities

• some practitioners from other areas of the nursery are still unsure about the approach and think it may encourage ‘silly’ behaviour

• parents and carers are beginning to understand the importance of DMP, although some are still interested to see an end product to a session

• adults are becoming more confident in modelling movement play


I feel that it is has been very easy to put the DMP approach into practice and we plan to deliver a wide variety of child-initiated movement opportunities in future.


We used to spend a lot of time trying to stop the children exploring their natural desire to move because we considered it to be dangerous. Now there is a more relaxed atmosphere for staff and children and improved relationships between parents and carers, children and practitioners.


Our next step will be to create a Developmental Movement Play policy for the setting as a whole. 




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