Montessori was concerned that preschool children, whose body proportions are still larger in the upper body, should be spared the rigors of strict physical workouts. She believed that a young child’s legs could be damaged by forced physical activity.
She basically believed in free play, that it was a great way to help a child to develop muscles and coordination and run off extra energy.
The first object of physical activity was to help a child breathe properly and eventually help a child pronounce words correctly. It’s interesting to note that recent research links breathing and stuttering. Part of the therapy for stuttering is to introduce proper breathing techniques.
Dr. Montessori believed that babies and small children crawled because their heavy upper bodies and large heads made it difficult to walk upright. Also, she noticed that preschool children often lay on their backs and moved their arms and legs about because it was an easy way to exercise their limbs without the stress of standing in an upright position. She believed benches should be provided for young preschool children to sit on whenever they were tired. She did not believe in pushing young children with forced activities.
Here are some ideas Montessori used for physical activity:
Montessori did not require a gymnasium for preschool children, though she was at first criticized for providing them. The main physical activities should be the ones that a child would do later in life, such as hiking, swimming and cycling.