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Children - Developing The Play Instinct

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Almost from the birth of the child it instinctively begins its own physical training. To watch the tendencies it manifests, to correct the faulty ones, as previously explained, and to exercise those which are in the right and proper direction, is one of the first cares of the parent.

The healthy child soon shows a desire to seize, pull, lift, and otherwise handle all objects that come within his reach. This is to be attributed partly to natural curiosity, but more particularly to the constitutional need of exercising the muscles, at this early period, to which he yields almost unconsciously. As soon as he is able to walk, the range of his muscle activity is vastly extended, and from this time forth his experiences in this connection play a large and important part in his physical education and development.

The students and the practitioners of kindergarten methods have recognized the meaning of these early impulses and have taught how they may be developed in helping on the right physical training of the child.

Very early, too, the child, like the young of all animals, manifests the desire to play—and his play is the beginning of a more complex measure of self-training physically, while it is also the foundation of all art—for all art is self-expression, and play is the first attempt at self-expression.

Here again the kindergarten methods apply the same principles and help the child along the lines it is groping about to find. Training of the muscles properly directed at an early age, leaving plenty of room for spontaneous effort on the part of the child, is lasting in its effects, and its importance cannot be overestimated.

Hence we have devoted this section to the study of this stage in the child's development, showing how kindergarten methods may be applied in the home. How games may be, always without undue interference, directed so as to form part of an orderly physical training, and how music may minister to the proper development of health, beauty, and power, even in the very youngest.

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