Aspects of Physical Development
- Moving & Handling
- Health & Self-Care
Why Physical Development is a Prime Area
- There has been considerable concern over the last few years about an increase in children’s sedentary behaviour and a reduction in their physical activity.
- Physical development has been described as ‘experience-expectant’ learning which means that the brain is wired in expectation of this development. If it doesn’t happen early it is more difficult to establish later on.
- Babies and young children undergo rapid and wide-ranging physical and psychological developments in their early years which contribute to their future health and well-being.
- Physical development contributes to cognitive development – as children move and explore the world they learn about the properties of objects and their own capabilities.
- In the early years children are establishing patterns of activity which will affect their whole future. If activity and healthy eating are established early on good habits tend to remain.
- Physical development can help with the maintenance of a healthy weight and the development of strong bones, muscles and heart.
- It is widely believed that physical development can also help with the development of personal and social skills such as self-confidence, interaction, taking turns, getting along with others and so on.
How Can We Support this Area?
- Encourage children to engage in and talk about the things they enjoy doing such as walking, skipping, climbing, rolling and jumping (gross motor activities).
- Encourage children to engage in and talk about the things they enjoy doing such as threading, cutting, pressing, grasping, pinching (fine motor activities).
- Use words in context which allow children to consider their physical movements – eg: ‘you are lifting one foot and hopping on the other’ or ‘I saw you bending from your waist to lift up the watering can’. Focus on each child’s strengths and identify next steps for their physical development.
Enabling Environment for PD
Moving & Handling
- Ensure that there are opportunities for free-flow between outdoor and indoor areas to increase activity and reduce sedentary behaviour.
- Provide activities that support fine motor development such as threading beads, sewing cards/cloth, painting and exploring colour, mark-making of all kinds, building with Lego or small blocks, pinching, rolling and cutting dough or clay.
- Provide activities that develop stability – stop and start games such as statues; games such as being rabbits or snakes so that children balance their weight on different parts of the body.
- Plan activities that encourage locomotor skills – such as galloping, running, climbing, cycling, hopping, skipping.
- Give children opportunities to develop object-control skills including catching, rolling and throwing skills – provide bean bags and buckets or hoops for throwing into; offer a range of balls of different weight, size and bounciness!
- Provide bats, skittles and any other resources to encourage movement and accuracy in catching and throwing.
Health & Self-Care
- Display steps for hand washing signage clearly and refer to it and model the hand-wash sequence.
- Provide tissues at an accessible level close to an enclosed bin – display reminders about hygiene for nose-blowing and coughing.
- Use displays to show the range of foods to be eaten and to identify how different foods help growth and development.
- Grow edible plants such as strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce and potatoes and prepare and eat them in the setting.
- Encourage children to care for their teeth; talk about the things that are good for oral health and the things that people do to encourage their teeth to remain healthy.
- Use puppets to model aspects of health and self-care.
- Encourage children to feel proud of achievements in health and self-care.