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Physical Development

Physical Development


Physical Development is interconnected with emotional, social, cognitive and language development, which underpins all other areas of children’s learning and development. Physical development is the growth and development of both the brain and body. Physical experiences in the early years puts in place the neurological, sensory and motor foundations necessary for feeling good in your body and being comfortable with the world. Young children undergo rapid physical development.

At Pinxton Nursery School, we intend our children to be effective movers, with good spatial awareness and fine and gross motor skills. Health and well-being, self-care and physical development is integral. A collaborative approach supports development of a lifelong positive attitude to self-care and decision-making



Physical Development of a child relies on the whole body experiences. At Pinxton Nursery School, we ensure that children have a movement rich curriculum, indoors and outside from the earliest point they come into the nursery. The adults in nursery provide an enabling environment, which embeds movement and encourages each child to be active and interactive with others. Adults focus on the child’s strengths and identify new steps.

The continuous provision throughout the nursery provides many opportunities for children to learn new skills, reinforce and practise skills and gain knowledge. Dough disco, P.E sessions, Forest Schools and directed teaching allow all children to practise and develop allowing all children to be active explorers.  

Birth to 5 Matters splits Physical development into: Moving and Handling and Health and Self-care.


Moving and Handling

This is the development of Gross and fine motor skills. These start with sensory exploration, development of a child’s strength, coordination and positional awareness, which are developed through tummy time, crawling and play movements with both objects and with adults. Through games and play opportunities both inside and outside adults support children to develop their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, coordination and agility. Fine motor control and precision helps with hand eye coordination which later links with early literacy. Children are provided with repeated and varied activities and opportunities to explore and practise through play with small world activities, puzzles and using small tools. Allowing children to develop proficiency, control and confidence.


Health and self-care

This is development of children knowing how to keep themselves safe and healthy. Children learn about hygiene, nutrition and sleep. Understanding the importance of healthy choices. Children develop self-management skills and an understanding and awareness of how to assess and manage the risk in any particular situation, which is an essential life skill. Children are provided with lots of opportunities to practise and use skills through the nursery routine to provide a base in which to explore the world safely. The balanced rhythm of the nursery routine allows children to try new experiences and make choices. Giving them a powerful message, which contributes towards a balanced and healthy lifestyle.




Children leave nursery with the skills needed to be confident movers. They have positive self-image and aware of the world around them. They are have the skills to undertake risks, challenges, and make positive choices. They understand how to keep themselves healthy and safe.


Area of Physical Development

When children enter our Nursery they are able to

When children leave our Nursery they are able to

Moving and Handling

  • Develops security in walking upright using feet alternately and can also run short distances


  • Walks upstairs facing forwards holding rail or hand of adult, with both feet onto a single step at a time


  • Changes position from standing to squatting and sitting with little effort


  • Participates in finger and action rhymes, songs and games, imitating the movements and anticipating actions


  • Hands start to operate independently during a task that uses both, with each hand doing something different at the same time (e.g. holding a block in one hand and steadying the other block with the other hand.)


  • Shows interest, dances and sings to music rhymes and songs, imitating movements of others


  • Can walk considerable distance with purpose, stopping, starting and changing direction


  • Looks closely at small items and creatures, and can also see items at substantial distance, comfortably changing focus from one to the other


  • When holding crayons, chalks etc., makes connections between their movement and the marks they make


  • Uses gesture and body language to convey needs and interests and to support emerging verbal language use
  • Climbs stairs, steps and moves across climbing equipment using alternate feet.


  • Maintains balance using hands and body to stabilise


  • Walks down steps or slopes whilst carrying a small object, maintaining balance and stability.


  • Runs with spatial awareness and negotiates space successfully, adjusting speed or direction to avoid obstacles


  • Can balance on one foot or in a squat momentarily, shifting body weight to improve stability


  • Can grasp and release with two hands to throw and catch a large ball, beanbag or an object


  • Creates lines and circles pivoting from the shoulder and elbow


  • Manipulates a range of tools and equipment in one hand, tools include paintbrushes, scissors, hairbrushes, toothbrush, scarves or ribbons

Health and Self-Care

  • Sleeps for 12-14 hours a day with one/two naps. Daytime sleeping continues to be important for healthy development


  • Highly active in short bursts, with frequent and sudden need for rest or withdrawal


  • Enjoys hugs and cuddles and seeks comfort from attachment figure when they feel the need


  • Uses physical expression of feelings to release stress.


  • Generally has up to 16 teeth – helps adult with brushing teeth


  • Intentionally makes sounds with objects and actively responds to music and singing with whole-body dancing


  • Develops own likes and dislikes in food and drink, willing to try new food textures and tastes


  • Shows interest in indoor and outdoor clothing and shoes/wellingtons


  • Clearly communicates wet or soiled nappy or pants, showing increasing awareness of bladder and bowel urges


  • Helps with dressing/undressing and care routines, enjoying the rituals established for hand washing and teeth cleaning


  • Feeds self with increasing need to be in control and holds cup with both hands, drinking without much spilling
  • Can tell adults when hungry, full up or tired or when they want to rest, sleep or play


  • Observes and can describe in words or actions the effects of physical activity on their bodies.


  • Can name and identify different parts of the body


  • Takes practical action to reduce risk, showing their understanding that equipment and tools can be used safely


  • Can wash and can dry hands effectively and understands why this is important


  • Willing to try a range of different textures and tastes and expresses a preference.


  • Can name and identify different parts of the body


  • Observes and controls breath, able to take deep breaths, scrunching and releasing the breath


  • Can mirror the playful actions or movements of another adult or child


  • Working towards a consistent, daily pattern in relation to eating, toileting and sleeping routines and understands why this is important


  • Gains more bowel and bladder control and can attend to toileting needs most of the time themselves.


  • Dresses with help, e.g. puts arms into open fronted coat or shirt when held up, pulls up own trousers, and pulls up zipper once it is fastened at the bottom



How you can help your child at home

  • 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.


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