What do we mean by Physical development?

From sitting to crawling; walking to running; Physical development combines everything related to movement development. Also important in this section is health and self-care, and children will begin to understand healthy habits and good hygiene. Have a read below for the early learning goals related to this core are of Early Years development.

Moving and handling

Both gross motor skills (bigger movements with arms and legs) and fine motor skills (more dexterous skills such as using scissors or writing with a pencil) will develop during this time, and children before year 1 will begin to navigate obstacles and experiment with different types of movement. In other words...

... children show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements. They move confidently in a range of ways, safely negotiating space. They handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing. [Early Learning Goal]

This means pushing, prodding, twisting, balancing, turning, skipping, hopping, jumping and landing, stretching, speeding up, going slow and lots more! A lot of this development will occur naturally through free play, though some active learning can taken place in this area with songs, games and dances which involve copying moves. Have a look at resources page for some ideas.

Children will also begin to show a preference for a dominant hand at this age and start to manipulate materials when given the chance. As such, lots of fun with expressive arts (painting, drawing, mark making, lego, puzzles, mazes etc) really compliment development in moving and handling at this age.


Moving and handling.... Just cut and run.

Moving and handling.... Just cut and run.

These are not the vegetables you are looking for.

These are not the vegetables you are looking for.

Health and self-care

Becoming more independent in these early years can really boost a child's confidence. From simply telling an adult when they need something, to being able to manage their immediate needs for food, drink, or the toilet - the sense of 'doing it yourself' is a great thing to encourage at this age. Not only that but children might start to...

...know the importance for good health of physical exercise, and a healthy diet, and talk about ways to keep healthy and safe. They manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently. [ Early Learning Goal]

As such, having an awareness of why these things are important for our health is just as important as following the healthy-living advice that their teachers and carers encourage. Knowing that there is a right time to go to bed (even if it is begrudgingly!) and that eating a variety of food, (even if it is done with a grimace), is a part of this development too.

Though it might seem like a fantasy, children really do want to dress themselves, eat healthy food and goes to bed at a reasonable hour!

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