Our learning areas - Physical development

By Susan Richmond

Physical development

Introduction to ‘Physical development’

Physical development is all about movement, awareness of the body, gaining a sense of space and understanding health and what the body needs.

This area of learning looks at how children develop their ability to move their bodies, hands, feet and fingers and use their senses and movements to explore the world around them. Children also learn to take care of their body, by being aware of what is healthy and developing good hygiene.

You might have heard people talk about ‘fine’ motor skills or ‘gross’ motor skills. These skills are simply actions that involve a person using their muscles. Fine motor skills are small precise movements and gross motor skills are larger movements. Like any other skill, babies and children need to practice movements regularly to get them right.

At CBeebies, we have linked our learning areas with the Early Years curricula of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Physical Development links to Physical Development (England), Health and Wellbeing (Scotland), Physical Development (Wales) and Physical Development and Movement (Northern Ireland)

How are children’s early years supported around the UK?

There are different curricula for supporting early development in the UK, depending on where you are based. In England and Wales there is the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), in Scotland there is the Curriculum for Excellence and in Northern Ireland there is the Foundation Stage.

The EYFS is used by all care and education providers working with children from birth to the age of five (or the end of reception year), developing existing knowledge, skills and understanding using a fun play-based approach.

It aims to achieve the Early Learning Goals and encourages the sharing of knowledge of your child’s achievements with the adults they are working with, recognising that all children are individual and will learn and make progress at their own pace.

The EYFS broadly covers six areas of learning, as are the Areas of Learning at the Foundation Stage in Northern Ireland which serves a similar purpose. These areas are:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development (Personal Development & Mutual Understanding in Northern Ireland)
  • Physical Development (Physical Development & Movement)
  • Communication, Language and Literacy (Language & Literacy)
  • Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy (Mathematics & Numeracy)
  • Knowledge and Understanding of the World (The World Around Us)
  • Creative Development (The Arts)
  • Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence provides the framework for learning for all children and young people in Scotland aged 3 to 18. The curriculum aims to ensure that every child in Scotland becomes:

  • a successful learner
  • a confident individual
  • a responsible citizen
  • an effective contributor
  • Curriculum for Excellence has 5 different levels of learning for different ages. The Early Level is mainly, but not only, for children 3-6 years.

    To read more about each curriculum and our Learning Areas have a read of the links to the right.

    Ideas for Emotions & behaviour with CBeebies

    The games, songs and stories across CBeebies relate to all areas of learning from the EYFS curriculum. Here are a few ideas for activities you can do at home to support a child’s Personal, Social and Emotional Development.

  • The CBeebies website has lots of songs, music, stories, games and activities. If your child is enjoying any of these, it’s a sure sign that they are feeling good! Your child will watch and learn from you as you help them to find new games and activities. As they grow, your child will be keen to do this for themselves. Having self-confidence, achieving success, and practising new skills by using equipment independently is a key part of the EYFS curriculum.
  • Take a look at some of the seasonal themed clips and find out how people celebrate special times with their families. Talk to your child about days that you celebrate together. This links to the EYFS curriculum by encouraging your child to respect their own and other cultures and shows them that other families may enjoy different celebrations together.
  • Visit the Tikkabilla Emotion theatre and watch as Tamba shares his changing feelings. Can you match the faces to show the different emotions? Why not play the Tikkabilla Finger Faces activity too? Add a sad, happy or excited expression to the puppets and talk about times when your child may feel that way.
  • Print this article

    Want more fun?

    See all fun activities

    Top tips

    • Help your child by teaching them how to express their emotionsPraise  can be a much better incentive – not just punishments for behaviourTry to come up with examples when you have felt that emotionRemember to ‘allow’ children to have their feelings – they cannot be wrong