There is so much focus in Montessori on fine motor skills I think at times we as parents overlook the importance of gross motor skills, the development and coordination of those large, gross motor muscles and movements.
In the classroom gross motor movements would include movement around the room (moving tables and chairs, walking), lifting and pouring, practical life activities like window washing or table scrubbing, walking the line. Otis' class has a lovely playground but also free play equipment such as climbing frames and balancing boards.
Maria Montessori knew how integral movement is to intellectual development. "Mental development must be connected with movement and be dependent on it.""Movement helps the development of the mind, and this finds renewed expression in further movement and activity." In writing about this connection she believed children didn't need specific games or gymnastics just to keep fit, just for health, we don't need to separate movement and thought.
Children need freedom of movement too. I can see that sometimes my children just need to get outside and exert their energy, to run until they can't run any more. To laugh and to chase each other. To be free and just let it all out. To me this free time, this physical exertion is just as important as good nutrition, as important as a good dinner or a good book.
Running, skipping, swimming, riding a bike or climbing a tree - using all those gross motor skills are just as important as taking a tray off the shelves and working at a desk. Life skills, risk taking, fun, physical exertion, problem solving, critical thinking can all come from gross motor play. Gross motor work also lays the foundation for the use of fine motor skills.
My children are not participating in any organised sport this term however the boys are really enjoying and focusing on their soccer and swimming skills. Above the boys are using the Two Mini Soccer Goal Set, they love playing soccer together and it's awesome to use outside or inside on a cold or rainy day and for targeted goal practice (c/o Child.com.au).