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Chava Shelhav wrote a book about her method, the Child’Space Method, together with Orly Gat and Tomer Hollander. They talked, researched, and wrote every Monday evening during the past five years. It is now published in Hebrew and I’m happy I got the permission to show you the first part that is translated in English. It’s the introduction to the chapter about the function of turning over and the photos are from the official book release. This English version is in a very early state of the translation process, so it’s not corrected or edited whatsoever.



Turning Over

When an infant experiments in learning a new movement, like turning over, he does not know ahead of time how he will carry it out. He acquires that skill by trial and error, by repeating that movement over and over. If we observe that infant, it appears that each of his movements is different than the previous one, in the amount of each limb’s participation, in the size and tempo of each movement. The repetition is not mechanic. In each repetition, he checks the possibilities. Each repetition improves skills of orientation, the ability to cross the mid-line, attentiveness, balance, and motor coordination among different body parts.

Every variation stimulates and activates the visual, auditory, sensory, and vestibular systems and helps to form connections among these systems. This continues until the infant finds the most efficient way to carry out the action. In this way, the motor, sensory, and cognitive systems are intertwined in the process of learning to turn over. This is the stage of development of forming social connections of parent-infant: the parents are witness to the development of their infant and react with joy and encouragement. The infant takes enjoyment from both the discovery of movement itself and from the encouragement, and he is interested in repeating the movement in order to receive the positive feedback.

In this stage of turning over, the torso develops the ability to rotate, the infant learns to cross his midline (the imaginary line that separates the right and left sides of the body), he begins to move his body parts independently of each other, he develops balance, orientation, and a sense of space. This development serves as a base for future functional movement. During this stage the skeletal mass is built up, and the muscles designated for movement enlarge.

Many research studies emphasize the crawling stage and view it as the critical stage in normal motor development and as the basis for coordinating the right and left hemispheres of the brain [McEwan 1991]. However, the basis upon which crawling is based is already noticeable in the turning over stage. Rotation, distinguishing between movement of the left and right sides of the body, and crossing the midline all testify to the fact that already in the turning over stage, there is coordination of the two hemispheres in action.

In keeping with this understanding of separation and coordination between the two hemispheres of the brain, the Shelhav Method Child’Space, places an emphasis on the importance of the stage of turning over and sees it as a basic building block in the development of the infant.

There are many ways to turn over from belly to back and from back to belly, and there is no “right” of preferred way to do so. When children are observed turning over, you can notice the richness of movement and the multitude of possibilities they employ in carrying out this activity. Moreover, it is important that the infant knows more than one way to turn over, in order for him to choose the way that will match the conditions of the environs.

The ability to choose from amongst a variety of possibilities empowers the infant’s sense of efficacy, arouses his curiosity, and enhances his joy and pleasure in moving.

In order to understand the activity of turning over, we will clarify the mechanical principles of handling gravity by way of balance and use of the floor as a source of strength.

From: Chava Shelhav, Orly Gat, Tomer Hollander – Theoretical and practical aspects of the Child’Space Method, Tel Aviv, November 2015