Intermediate Practice

Dorothy Marlen on the Pikler Approach

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Dorothy Marlen on the Pikler Approach


Dorothy Marlen has extensive training in the Pikler approach with the European Pikler Association, the Pikler Institute in Budapest and with RIE in USA, with a specialism in birth to three. She brought the Pikler approach to the UK in 2008, co-founding the Pikler UK Association, and chairing its early beginnings for 7 years, including organising for Pikler trainers to give trainings in the UK.

This year, she graduated to the level of Pikler Pedagogue with the European Pikler Association – the first to have reached this level in the UK.

She is course leader of the pioneering Level 3 (EYE) CACHE Holistic Baby and Child Care Diploma which synthesizes Rudolf Steiner’s understanding of child development, an introduction to the Pikler approach and EYFS requirements. It has a unique birth to three focus. The third cohort started this October.

As well as running ground-breaking courses, Dorothy is an author, a consultant and an international conference speaker. She is an advocate for our youngest children – for example bringing a greater understanding of what natural motor development is, how this is inseparable from relationship and care and why parents and carers need this understanding.

In this interview, Dorothy explains what the Pikler approach is, what we can learn from it and why it is so crucial in the first 18 months of a baby’s life. She goes on to explain the links between natural motor development and later learning, such as speech.

We finish with some ideas and strategies for practitioners and educators who would like to start the Pikler approach




Babymoves by Marianne Hermsen-van Wanrooy  here

Dorothy’s chapter is Natural Physical Development in the First Year. Learning from the Pikler approach in The Physical Development Needs of Young Children edited by Rebecca Duncombe, published by Routledge (2019).

The full quote from Jane Swain that Dorothy refers to at minute 17 is:

“I was in awe of the grace, beauty and efficiency of the infants’ and toddlers’ movements at Lóczy (The Pikler Institute, Budapest). Their balance, coordination and posture were extraordinary. Their movement possibilities were vast; they were very active and well-acquainted with transitional movements—that is, they did not remain in a few static positions, but instead moved in and out of positions easily. I did not see nearly the degree of drooling, low-tone trunks, wide-sprawling bases of support, compensatory high shoulders and stiffness, and other movement problems that I so often see in typically developing children in the U.S.

Among the children at Lóczy, I also did not see abnormal retention of the primitive reflexes…. When I inquired further of the staff about the lack of abnormal primitive reflex retention among the children at Lóczy, I was told that this is not an issue for them. Not an issue! “

Jane Swain http://www.waldorftoday.com/2011/07/698

The study of the 722 children’s natural movement progression between 1947 and 1964 at the Pikler Institute. Pikler E.  Learning Motor skills on the basis of self-induced movement. In Exceptional Infant ed Hellmuth J. Vol 2 Brunner/Mazel Inc NY. 1971

The Pikler book Dorothy is helping to translate is called Een Dag in de Babygroep – geinsireed op devisie van Emmi Pikler ( A Day in the Baby Group – inspired by Emmi Pikler’s vision.) by Hedie Meyling SWP, Uitgeverij B.V. 01 Edition 2020

Dorothy has also written The Parent and Child Group Handbook – the Steiner/Waldorf Approach Dot Male, Hawthorn Press (2006)

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Kathy Brodie

Kathy Brodie