Early Years

Physical Development

Physical Development

‘Physical Development sits at the heart of wellbeing, learning and development—and it creates school readiness’.
Every Child A Mover, Jan White (2015)

‘The recommended level of moderate to vigorous physical activity for children under 5 is 180 minutes a day, spread through-out the day’.
UK Physical Activity Guidelines, Chief Medical Officer (2011)

Supporting Physical Development in your Setting

Moving and Handling

The Moving and Handling strand of physical development relates to the development of control and co-ordination in large and small movements. As children become more skilled in large movements, their confidence grows and they learn different ways to move and develop the skills they need to negotiate space safely.

The outdoor learning environment provides a wealth of opportunities to promote gross motor development. It is important that indoor opportunities are available for those children who feel less comfortable outside. Once children develop fluid, controlled movements of the arms, they can begin to refine those movements, gradually making them smaller and more accurate. This is how they develop the fine motor control that they will need to use tools and equipment, including mark-making equipment, effectively.

For children to be able to use their physical skills well, they need to develop a form of partnership between their eyes and hands (and other parts of their bodies). This enables them to see the effects that their movements are having on the world around them and make the adjustments necessary to achieve their aim. They need time to learn and practise these skills, through a variety of experiences.

Health and Self-Care

The Health and Self-Care strand of physical development shows children how to stay healthy and safe and to begin to manage hygiene and personal needs. Through the Characteristics of Effective Learning, children learn to make choices and decisions about taking risks – the beginning of learning to keep safe.

As their independence grows, adults can help them to recognise the effects of exercise on their bodies and encourage them to decide when to have a drink or a rest. Snack and meal times support learning across all seven areas of learning and are especially valuable when teaching children about healthy eating and healthy choices.


You can find information about our bespoke training and support packages, in-house training opportunities and training courses on our training pages

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