“Brincadeira livre” means “free play”.
Children who are allowed to move on their own, on their own initiative, learn by themselves to sit up, stand up and walk. The Hungarian pediatrician Dr. Emmi Pikler focused attention on the child’s independent development of motor skills, and also identified a variety of intermediary body postures and movements that had not been recognised earlier, but which are constantly used by children when they play. A child who is given the freedom to move on his or her own is naturally cautious and moves with ease and confidence.
I started to learn about the Pikler approach to education when my daughter Manu was about 2 months old, in a mothers’ circle. My partner and I decided not to anticipate Manu’s motor positions, making her free or self-initiated motor development possible.
Our role was to build an environment of respectful care and great emotional security, being present with quality at every moment when our daughter needed us: breastfeeding, changing diapers, bathing, changing clothes, sleeping, eating… And taking a step back when she didn’t need us, even though we were always there, observing her research and discoveries, or her autonomous activity.
In this video-archive I share a selection of excerpts with the records I made of Manu playing freely, from lying on her back on the floor to sitting, climbing, walking, jumping… I chose not to mention Manu’s age at each new movement, to avoid comparisons and because babies in free movement achieve motor positions at different moments, or in their own time.
You will notice that, after a certain moment, the playroom gains a wood fence. Contrary to what it may seem, these fences, also present at the Public Daycare (Fridericianum, documenta fifteen, Kassel), aim to guarantee safety and freedom of movement, without adults having to run after babies and toddlers saying “be careful”, “don’t touch this”, “don’t do that”… As Emmi Pikler said, we need to protect children from the big dangers, so that they can explore the small dangers.
I hope this material will be useful for parents, other caregivers and educators inspired by the Pikler approach. These videos are free to be used in study groups and classes. For those who are having contact with this pedagogy for the first time, perhaps after going through this archive you may look at babies in a different way.
Graziela Kunsch, Kassel, 2022
*The first part of this text comes from the narration of “Freedom to move on one’s own”, a film by Anna Tardos and Agnes Szanto, available in the Public Daycare Library
PS: Each page of the archive shows 12 video buttons. To go to the next pages, click on the small numbers at the bottom of the page, below de 12 videos. I’m uploading videos here little by little.