Maria Montessori noted that children sought out different challenges – challenges that the children found both absorbing and satisfying. She also noticed that they would challenge themselves to reach perfection and one challenge, in particular, caught her attention…walking along logs and curbs. Maria Montessori understood that by doing this the children were mastering their sense of balance and so she developed the “walk the line activity” which went on to become an integral part of the Montessori Philosophy.
Recently, we have created an ellipse using tape on our classroom floor. The purpose of this activity is to help gradually build the child’s confidence in their body co-ordination skills. Because the ellipse is not a straight line, nor does it follow a regular curve, the child is constantly needing to adjust their balance.
The “walk the line activity” not only develops motor control. It also contributes to developing:
- Listening skills
- Body awareness
- Social Adaptation
- Curiosity and exploration
- Grace and courtesy (being aware of the person in front of and behind oneself
- A sense of inner discipline
Children can access this activity at any time of the day. Although, from recent observations, the children use it more as “walking meditation” after periods of intense focus and concentration.
Interest stems from ensuring that the child has the right level of difficulty. Unlike other Practical Life activities, there is no other goal apart from walking. This activity involves the full concentration of the child as they begin the lesson.
If the child prefers, they can remove their shoes and using slow, precise movements they will carefully start this lesson walking heel to toe. The activity is ramped up by adding objects for them to carry – a bell (without making it ring), a glass of water, a tray with balls rolling about, balancing a bean bag on their head, etc
By nature, children are barely able to keep still. Our Children’s House encourages movement and builds on a child’s natural instinct to move. By exposing a child to “walk the line”, we maximise and develop their movement potential.
“There is a secret key to the perfecting of the most varied type of movement. And this key is balance. We have therefore devised a means which can assist small children to secure their most fundamental movement, that is, walking”.
Maria Montessori – Discovery of The Child