In Waldorf education, we often take a threefold approach to our humanness. One example is “walking, speaking and thinking.” Steiner often quoted a man who said we accomplish the three greatest things in our first three years – walking, speaking and thinking.
When we think of walking, we also must think of all the pre-walking accomplishments a child has to make.
Nature has given infants and toddlers a developmental movement sequence that leads from lying in their mother’s arms (or other caregiver) or lying on the floor on their backs, to eventually the freeing of the hands from gravity, and walking upright! It’s quite an individual achievement and requires no prompting or assistance from the adult!
Adults take many movements for granted that are just as important as milestones such as sitting, crawling or walking.
For instance, babies do a lot of side-lying, twisting, propelling, pausing, balancing and reaching to name a few.
When observing children at this age, a child will do the same movement over and over and over again. In fact, one might observe a small child stand and fall down 30-40 times, which would become hundreds of times over the next days and weeks.
The task of standing unassisted and balancing on one foot at a time while striding forward is not an easy feat. And it’s taken up quite unconsciously. Even when walking is mastered, children return to all the previous movements, including crawling. It’s good for adults to go back as well! The movements continue to be joyful and playful, like doing yoga or rolling down a hill!
Spend time observing your child in movement. Notice repetitions and mastery. Notice posture and gait. Notice how your child manages the space around them. Try walking, moving or taking the posture of your child. It will inform you of their lived experience within their body.