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Trusting the Child

What has trust got to do with dance and children? Well, a whole lot!

Drawn to the study of early movement development, I recently enrolled in the AMI 0-3 Orientation course through the Sydney Montessori Training Centre. Our trainer, Sara Brady and a group of 19 students dove right into the deep end from the first session, reflecting on the significant impact trust and respect has on children's development.

Do we see the young child as being capable and having something to contribute to the world? Do we see the young child as having an innate intelligence? How we view this young child is directly felt by the child through our actions- how we hold the child, how we create time and space for the child, how we speak with the child. The messages this young child receives from the adults form such a deep foundation of their own self worth, capabilities and sense of belonging.

Following the initial week on trust and respect, a lecture on movement development and related readings ensued and it confirmed for me what I've long experienced personally around trust; specifically, the lack of trust I had in myself and how this has played out in my relationship with dance over the years.

The challenges I faced in dance with improvisation (I found this so exposing of who I am), sharing my ideas with fellow dancers/choreographers and the most paradoxical of all, my discomfort with being seen (dancers are usually seen by others!) all have had roots in not seeing myself as worthy and capable.

AMI trainer and author, Dr. Silvana Montanaro articulates how movement is so closely intertwined with our sense of self. She writes that children develop basic faith in oneself when they feel they can pursue their own ideas and interest as a result of having freedom to move. Self confidence, this knowing of one's own resourcefulness also develops through movement:

"Active movement in the first months of life provides the overall mind-body experience from which self-confidence is derived, and with this very valuable instrument, it is possible to face all the challenges of life. Every time a child is deprived of his active movement, the foundation of his developing ego is threatened, with long term effects of incalculable seriousness."

-Dr. Silvana Montanaro, Understanding the Human Being Chapter:9

While many mainstream dance classes require children to listen, follow instructions and conform to external ideals, the child centred approach to dance exploration, for which I am advocating through Montessori Dance, calls for freedom of movement and the nurturing of the capacity to have faith and confidence in oneself. Whether a child goes on to become a dancer or not is of little importance. The life skills and values the child develops through experiencing the freedom of movement and self expression is paramount and will serve them through whatever paths the child chooses in life.

I invite you to reflect on the following reflection questions that were shared in the course:

  • What are the consequences of an adult/child not developing trust in themselves?

  • What are the consequences of an adult/child not developing respect for themselves?

  • What are some of the ways that we could show young children trust + respect?

I love hearing from you! Please leave a comment or write to me with your thoughts

Kei x

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