In a previous post, we toured the first year of movement development. But there’s more! And it matters in the realms of not only physical health, but emotional too.
From the instant of birth, babies begin exploring their inescapable relationship with gravity . . . that is, with earth and space . . . that is, ‘Baby Trek’!
Earth and Space: What’s the Big Deal?
Give it a go yourself. Move around. Hop out of your chair and do a jig, or bend down to pick up that teething ring the dog made friends with, or just lie down…
If you consider Earth your partner, what can you do with Earth? Perhaps rest. Or push against it to get up.
If you consider the Space around you as your partner, what can you do? If you had no Earth to push off of, how would you get from point A to point B? How would you get ahold of that vase before it falls off the table? Could we finally fly by reaching with our hands or even our heads?
Okay, okay. Back to babies. Babies push and babies reach. These two actions/attitudes are our natural responses to living on our planet. All of the milestones—the big ones like rolling, crawling, and walking, as well as the ones in-between—develop from Pushing and Reaching. (Well, they’re caused by the activation of reflexes, but that’s another post…)
The “Push Patterns” are really first about resting into gravity—and thendiscovering that from there we can push into the earth. Aaaah-HA! With this discovery, Baby can do all sorts of things! A push into his hands raises his head
A push into his hands raises his head and chest
and chest. A push backwards from his arms sends his whole body backwards, or he can pivot in a circle. A push of one foot takes him forward on his belly. If he’s sitting on his forelegs (kneel-sitting), a push can take him up higher and eventually to his feet.
The movements in this category establish Baby’s personal space, or “kinesphere.” They provide feedback internally, from the earth back into his body. He gets to know himself. He gets to know gravity and how to maneuver in it. He builds confidence and safety within his own Self.
Reaching: “Space—the Final Frontier”
“ These are the voyages of [Baby Jane]. [Her] [first-year] mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations . . .”
Being on her tummy provides Baby the opportunity to develop her ability to push into the earth. With this expertise, she can now “boldly go where no one has gone before!” (hear the music?). Well, plenty of others have gone there before, but she
A reach takes him forward from sitting to crawling
hasn’t! Once she knows herself and her kinesphere, she can move out of it—think of her reaching with her hands from sitting to crawling, and reaching with one hand and then the other when she does crawl on hands and knees. She can reach for something beyond herself and then satisfyingly obtain it or travel to it. She can get to know the world around her on her own initiative. She can explore what, to her, are still strange new experiences. She can voyage.
Is it Sci-Fi?
There you have it, I have gone sci-fi. Or, rather, ‘psy-phy.’ I have expounded upon just a few psychological-physical correlations of Pushing and Reaching. But literally in the body, the Push patterns move Baby because one body segment pushes into the next segment ahead of it. In the Reach patterns, one segment/limb pulls the rest behind it. Both of these are important skills! Both are necessary aspects of our grown-up movement, emotional expression, learning, and communication.
© Elizabeth Parker 2011, All Rights Reserved
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