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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

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EDUCATION IN MOVEMENT                   115

Whilst the infant assumes almost as a natural position that in
which the trunk is supine and the feet turned up into the air to
meet the extended hands, the child between three and five years
of age seeks a resting position by stretching himself prone on the
ground and often elevating his shoulders by supporting himself on
his elbows; that is, he assumes the position, centre a terre. He
has also to find positions of rest different from that of sitting on
a chair. Children love to sit on the ground, using as a base the
whole length of the crossed legs or the length of one leg placed
alongside; in doing so they give themselves a wider base of support.
Considering this natural need for a period of rest to break the
continuous movement, we have provided in the Children's Houses
small rugs, which usually are rolled up and kept in a part of the
room set apart for the purpose; children who want to work on the
ground rather than seated at a table must first of all take a mat*
spread it out on the ground and then work on it there. No adult
tells them to change these positions, so the child quietly follows
the dictates of its nature.


The exercises of practical life, when one thinks of it, constitute
real and proper gymnastics; the gymnasium in which they are
fostering all movements is just the environment in which one lives.
Here we have something which is quite different from the labour
which produces new things. Instead of that it preserves things as
they exist; it is a continual displacing of objects under the direction
of intelligence which sets before it an aim to be reached. Rolling
up a rug, brushing a pair of shoes, washing a wash-basin or floor,
laying the table, opening and closing boxes or doors or windows,
-arranging a room, setting chairs in order, drawing a curtain, carry-
ing furniture, etc.—all these are exercises in which the whole body is
engaged, sometimes one, sometimes another movement being per-
fected. By means of habitual work the child learns to move its
arms and hands and to strengthen its muscles in a better way than-