“The floor is the gymnasium of the child” - Maria Montessori, famous child educator and founder of the Montessori Method.
In normal development, the first stage in the process of learning to walk occurs a long time before the baby is able to support her weight on her legs. The time a baby spends on the floor is critical to the eventual development of walking. Rolling, tummy crawling and hands and knees crawling all help develop the foundations required for walking - balance and body sense, coordination, and muscle strength and control.
Floor time is equally important for a brain injured child. Before an effort is made to teach the child to stand, a lot of time needs to be spent on teaching the various floor movements such as rolling, tummy crawling and hands and knees crawling, and then allowing maximum time for these activities to be performed.
In 2008, Pathways Awareness, a US child development organisation, surveyed 409 therapists belonging to the Neuro-Developmental Treatment Association (NDTA) or the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), who work regularly with children and who averaged more than 20 years of experience. The results showed that two-thirds of the therapists reported that, in the past several years, they had observed an increase in early motor delays in babies under six months of age. When asked to explain this increase in motor delays, all of the therapists felt that decreased floor time was one of the main contributing factors.