Physical development is one of the three prime areas within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Each prime area is divided into Early Learning Goals, for physical development these are:
- Moving and handling - skills enabling children to show good control and coordination in large and small movements. Children are able to handle equipment and tools effectively, including pencils for writing.
- Health and self care - children knowing the importance of good health which includes physical exercise and a healthy diet. Children are able to manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently.
At Hillcross we are passionate about ensuring we provide the children with a range of opportunities to develop their physical development skills. Within our unit we provide a range of activities through our continuous provision that includes Child initiated, Adult initiated and Adult led, which includes;
Moving & Handling
- Daily opportunities for free-flow between outdoor and indoor areas to increase activity and reduce sedentary behaviour.
- 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.
- 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. This includes a weekly P.E. focused session in the school Gym and/or Studio.
- Planned activities that encourage locomotor skills – such as galloping, running, climbing, cycling, hopping, skipping.
- 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!
- Providing a range of 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, visuals and stories to model aspects of health and self-care.
- Encourage children to feel proud of achievements in health and self-care.
Physical development also encompasses the following skills;
- Fine motor skills - when a child uses precise movements using specific body parts, such as the thumb and finger to pick objects up.
- Gross motor skills - when a child uses their whole body in a movement, such as jumping or running.
- Hand-eye coordination - when a child's hands and eyes are working together, for example catching a ball. These skills are also used when writing.
- Mark making - this could be anything, from a baby or child making marks with their fingers in and, to dipping their hands or fingers in paint, to paint a picture.
- Pincer movement - when a child uses an index finger and thumb, to pick up and move objects. These skills are needed to develop an effective and comfortable pencil grip.
- Core strength -
Physical development is closely linked to a child's ability to write and mark make. Gross motor development needs to be developed initially and then fine motor skills are developed before moving onto writing. Please see 'Early Writing & Mark Making in EYFS' for more details.
Helping at Home
The Department of Health say to aim for at least three hours of physical activity across the day for children in the early years. But every movement counts and you don't need to plan extra activities, just make the most of everyday opportunities. For example when you're changing toddlers' nappies, encourage them to lie down and get up themselves as this helps to strengthen their core muscles and to support and develop their balance and coordination.
Encouraging children to walk up and downstairs by themselves is another good opportunity (it's challenging so they may need your support). And help children learn to use alternate feet by making sure there are opportunities in your setting for them to climb. Try starting off with having large blocks for the children to crawl, walk and climb up and over and when they're more confident, provide stilts so that they can get used to moving their feet at different times.