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Pēpi Free Movement

Kia ora Future Focus whānau, my name is Amber, I’m a Kirikahurangi kaiako at The Bach. I’m a mumma bear of three absolutely gorgeous children (Evie 6, Hugo 3 and Isla 7 months old) and I am a very passionate educator!

I wanted to share some information and my thoughts around the importance of free movement for our pēpi. With a large number of beautiful little ones enrolled across our four (almost five!) centres, I thought it was the perfect time to chat about this topic.

Whaea Amber is one of our Bach Kirikahurangi Kaiako and is super passionate about our young pēpi, have a read of what she has to share!

What is free movement?

Free movement is an idea which people started to become more aware of due to the work of a Hungarian paediatrician, Emmi Pikler in the late 1940s. Her approach is known as the “Pikler Approach”. You might have heard of a “pikler frame/triangle”; these resources stem from Emmi. Her approach is based on the idea of kind and respectful relationships between pēpi and the carer – giving pēpi independence, trust and a safe environment to naturally develop skills in their own time. Along with Pikler we have Magda Gerber who developed the RIE philosophy which was inspired by the work of Pikler.

What does this look like?

These approaches and philosophies help guide our teaching practice in the classroom and are something that I am very passionate about as an educator/mum. The main aspect of these approaches being respectful care for our little ones. This can look a multitude of ways in a classroom/home but in relation to free movement in our pēpi ruma you’ll notice that our kaiako will only place pēpi into positions that they can naturally get to themselves for example, if a child is able to sit supported but cannot get to this position themselves I won’t pop them into this position. By doing so it allows our pēpi to gain the strength and skills needed for movement in their own time. Pikler/RIE suggest that if we are placing our littles into positions before they are ready, it can slow down their natural progression of movement, they may hurt themselves or get frustrated as they may topple over and aren’t able to get themselves back into this position. The more time we give to our pēpi to practise these skills the stronger and more confident they will become. Most importantly though, it shows our pēpi that we trust and respect them to develop these skills in their own time.

Development of Movement Stages guide (guide meaning just that, all pēpi develop and learn skills at different times but this guide shows us a general progression of skills)

  • Lays on their back
  • Turns head
  • Starting to move their hands
  • Turns to their side
  • Turning onto back and puku
  • Happy to lie on puku, starts to stretch and wriggle
  • Rolling as a way to move around and get somewhere/objects
  • Beginning to crawl, often starting with shuffling backwards and rocking on all fours
  • Gets themselves to sitting
  • Pulling self to stand
  • Standing up unassisted
  • Walking

Click the link below for more detail

The Development of Movement Stages

How can you help your pēpi with these developmental stages?

So, I hear some of you thinking ‘well my baby hattttesss lying on their back/tummy time or much prefers to be sitting up!’ well I totally hear that. None of my littles liked tummy time at all, until they started rolling and could get themselves to their puku and roll onto their backs when they were done. The Pikler/RIE approach suggests to not place your bubba on their puku, often babies get frustrated with tummy time as their heads are so heavy and it’s exhausting for them to keep their head lifted or a lot of pēpi even have reflux issues which can make this position uncomfortable for them. If you are wanting to do tummy time some fun ways can be having bubs on you – tummy to tummy or aeroplane hold! Some other fun ways to help your little one enjoy their play time and to help them develop those movement skills can be to read stories together lying down (bubs love lying next to you on a comfy mat!), mirrors are a fantastic resource (can be placed above bubba safely or next to them so they can roll over and stare at their own gorgeous face), noticing your child’s interests and finding resources/toys to match (do they love to make noises and knock toys together? Maybe you have a couple of measuring cups/ wooden spoons that they could explore sound with while lying down), and of course something my three all moved their little tushies for was putting the tv remote/my phone down on the ground and they all wanted them so bad that they would rock, roll and wriggle their way to them. They all love toys that aren’t actually toys as our little friends see us with these things often and therefore think they must be amazing!

Take home…

I hope you have learnt a couple of things from within this post. The most important take home is the respect that we have for our pēpi right from birth. We want to show our little loves right from the get go that we believe in their abilities, that we care for them and that we trust their bodies to get their groove on when they are ready.

I have added a link to a really cool podcast made for parents on this topic: Janet Lansbury Podcast. Please feel free to come and chat with me about this topic as it really is a big passion of mine 🙂

Amber Callagher.

P.s whilst writing this blog post for our Future Focus community I have had my little one
crawling all over me, trying to get into the cupboards and testing out her new skill of pulling herself up. This parenting gig is go, go, go!