Growth Through Movement: Year One Insights

Navigating the first year of your child’s life can feel like a whirlwind of milestones and developmental leaps. Today, we’re drawing from a treasure trove of insights shared during a live guide and grow event, where Montessori and positive discipline expert, Jean Marie Painel, shed light on the profound journey of infants as they explore the world through movement. For new parents and seasoned caretakers alike, understanding this journey can empower you and enrich your child’s early experiences.

The Essence of Movement in Early Development

The first year of life is a monumental period of growth, where infants progress through various stages of movement—from slithering to crawling and finally standing. This progression is not just about physical growth; it deeply influences cognitive and emotional development. Jean Marie Painel emphasizes the natural unfolding of these stages, advocating for an environment that supports, rather than rushes, these milestones. One key concept highlighted is the principle of **Freedom of Movement** essential in a Montessori-prepared environment. This approach encourages caregivers to remove obstacles and provide a safe, enriched environment that promotes exploration and independence.

Setting the Stage for Movement

Creating a conducive environment begins with understanding the infant’s perspective. Jean Marie recommends getting down on the floor to view the world as your child does. This simple act can reveal potential hazards and opportunities for enhancement, such as ensuring a climb-proof setup that still invites curiosity and exploration. A fascinating suggestion is the introduction of a Montessori floor bed, which supports autonomous sleep and waking transitions, furthering the principle of independence from an early age.

Nurturing Through Nature

Sensory and tactile exploration plays a pivotal role during infancy. Jean Marie and Sylvia (the host) discuss the importance of letting infants interact with a wide array of textures, sounds, and sights. Nature, with its boundless sensory experiences, emerges as a vital element for development. Parents are encouraged to facilitate interaction with natural elements—letting a child feel the grass or observe the rustling leaves—fostering a connection with the world around them.

Mindful Interactions

One intriguing technique shared is S.H.O.W. (Slow Hands Omit Words), emphasizing the power of slow, demonstrative teaching with minimal verbal interruption. This approach allows infants to focus fully on the task or object at hand, facilitating deeper understanding and connection.

Acknowledging Each Child’s Unique Pace

A resonant message from the event was the importance of recognizing and respecting each child’s individual development timeline. The comparison, often exacerbated by social media, only serves to add unnecessary pressure. Jean Marie urges parents to trust in their child’s innate capabilities and to remember that milestones will be achieved in due time, with each child’s unique journey unfolding beautifully in its own right.


In reflecting on the insights from the live event, it’s clear that the first year of an infant’s life is rich with opportunities for growth, exploration, and connection. By adopting a Montessori-inspired approach to development, caregivers can support their children in laying a strong foundation for lifelong learning and independence. Whether it’s through creating a movement-friendly environment, engaging in sensory-rich experiences in nature, or practicing mindfulness in interaction, the goal is to savor each moment and celebrate the miraculous journey of growth through movement.

As Jean Marie poignantly reminds us, this time is fleeting. Embracing the unfolding of each developmental stage, with patience and joy, ensures that we not only foster our children’s growth but also enrich our own journey alongside them.

Meet our esteemed guest

Jeanne-Marie Paynel is a mother to 3, has a Masters in Montessori Education, AMI certified from birth to 6 years, a Certified Positive Discipline Educator, Birth Doula, Author, and Parenting Mentor.

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