Movement and Cognitive Development

Nearly a century ago, Maria Montessori pointed out that it was a grave error to think of purposeful movement as something different from the higher functions of the mind. Recent research now shows that movement and cognitive development are indeed closely related.

As Montessori educators, we recognise that children have an need to engage in movement. Purposeful movement is at the center of the Montessori approach to early childhood education, as it confers emotional, intellectual and physical benefits.

If you watch a Montessori environment closely, you will see coordinated movement is everywhere: be it carrying materials carefully, balancing on narrow beams, or carrying and moving chairs without any noise.

As children spend time in a Montessori school, they learn to coordinate their body and place it under the ready control of their mind.

Practical Life: Matching Keys with Locks


Some Montessori activities are genuinely complex, and can be very confusing for adults unaccustomed to our approach. However, some other Montessori activities are very simple to understand, but can breed endless complexity with little tweaks.

One of our favourite introductory practical life exercises is the lock-and-key set: this is a simple set of locks and keys, with children trying to match the correct pairs. Based on the child's level, the set can contain a variety of differently sized locks, or a larger number of pairs.

It is not unusual for us to see children younger than 3 working on solving this puzzle for an extended duration of time without asking for any help. It is indeed a wonderful activity for developing fine motor skills and problem-solving abilities, and very easy to replicate at home!