physical development in early childhood

Supporting a Child Physical Development in Early Childhood

Physical development in early childhood lays the foundation for future health and well-being. During the early years, children are growing and learning at an incredible rate. Their minds and bodies are developing essential skills to interact with the world around them. Good coordination, balance and motor skills in the early years help support children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. At Tappy Toes Nursery, we believe play is the best way for children to learn. Through play, they can develop their physical abilities fun and engagingly.

Benefits of Outdoor Activities for Kids

Spending time outdoors has tremendous benefits for young minds and bodies. It allows children room to run, jump, climb and explore freely. This active, self-directed play helps build significant motor skills like coordination, balance, strength and flexibility. Being outdoors also connects children to nature, which is great for their well-being. Here are some of the benefits of physical activities:

  • Supports overall healthy growth: Active play helps build strong bones and muscles and improves cardiovascular fitness.
  • Enhances brain development: Movement and physical activity boost brain power in little ones. As children crawl, run, swing, throw, and catch, they strengthen neural connections and grow brain cells.
  • Builds coordination and balance: Mastering large and small muscle groups helps children gain coordination, balance, spatial awareness, and body control. These skills form the foundation for further learning and development. 
  • Boosts social-emotional skills: Active games teach vital social-interaction abilities like turn-taking, sharing, cooperating, problem-solving, and emotional regulation.
  • Improves focus and cognitive skills: Regular exercise improves attention span, memory, and learning readiness by increasing oxygen flow to the brain.
  • Develops literacy and math readiness skills: Physical activities teach critical pre-academic skills like directional tracking, sequencing, counting, shapes, and problem-solving.
  • Promotes self-confidence: As children gain competence and achieve physical milestones, it builds their self-esteem, confidence, and resilience.

A strong foundation in physical development feeds into all other aspects of growth in early childhood, including cognitive, social-emotional, and language. An emphasis on active play and movement exploration ensures children gain these crucial physical competencies.

Outdoor Activities for Young Children  

  • Obstacle courses: Set up fun obstacle courses in the outdoor area using various materials like boxes to crawl through, hoops to jump over, containers to navigate around, and soft blocks to climb over. This allows children to work on skills like balancing, crawling, jumping, climbing, and coordination as they progress through the course.  
  • Ball activities: Engage kids in activities like throwing, catching, kicking and rolling balls, which are great for developing hand-eye coordination. Simple games of following the leader with a ball are often favourites among the little ones.
  • Riding toys: Provide trikes, scooters and ride-on toys to help kids work on leg muscles, balance and spatial awareness as they pedal and steer around the outdoor space. Having different riding toys available gives options for various ages and skill levels.
  • Nature exploration: Encourage children to explore the outdoor areas, looking closely to spot birds, insects and other wildlife or collecting natural items like leaves, sticks and rocks to bring back, which helps support the development of observation skills. 
  • Sports skills: Incorporate stations and activities that focus on foundational skills for sports, such as areas set up for practising throwing and kicking techniques, ball games involving throwing/kicking goals, and hoop games that build skills like aiming and tapping. This helps lay the groundwork for future recreational activities.

A nursery allows children to learn valuable social skills through outdoor play. They take turns, share, solve problems and learn from their peers. Being active outside provides excellent learning opportunities and a fun, healthy way for children to burn off energy!

Indoor Activities for Gross Motor Development

Here are some of the indoor gross motor activities for kids to keep them active:

  • Dance and movement sessions: Fun music can be played for children to dance, stretch, jump, and move. It’s an excellent way for them to express themselves freely. Various music genres from different cultures should be incorporated to expose children to diverse styles. 
  • Parachute games: A large parachute can be brought out for songs, shakes, and lifts that encourage cooperation and motor planning. Children work together to manipulate the parachute for creative play.
  • Indoor ball skills: Bouncing, rolling, throwing, and catching balls with developmentally appropriate equipment build coordination in a confined space. Scarves and hoops can also be incorporated.
  • Ride-on toys: Push-along toys, wagons, and ride-on cars are favourite activities for navigating tight turns and indoor terrain. This allows children to practice pedalling, steering, and following paths.
  • Exercise fun: Simple yoga stretches, hula hoop challenges, and action songs are led to keep little bodies active indoors. Movement is incorporated into themes for enrichment.

Keeping bodies moving during all weathers helps children develop as happy, healthy individuals in the early years. Indoor active play is just as valuable as outdoor.

Fine Motor Skills Development Through Hands-on Activities  

motor skills activitiesAlongside gross motor skills, fine motor skills are essential for young children to develop. Parents must provide children with fun activities to strengthen their hands, wrists and fingers. Here are some of the activities:

  • Arts and crafts: Activities like painting, glueing, sticking, cutting and small construction encourage precise hand control.
  • Playdough: Kneading, rolling, cutting and shaping playdough builds hand muscles and pincer grip. 
  • Board games: Simple puzzles, lacing, and construction games use small pieces to develop skills.
  • Sensory play: Filling and emptying containers in sand, water, or rice supports fine motor manipulation.  
  • Pretend play: Cooking, dressing and self-care activities like brushing toy hair using those tiny fingers.
  • Manipulatives: Sorting toys, threading beads, stacking blocks and using tweezers/tongs are great for coordination.

Both gross and fine motor skills activities help children develop coordination and are fun, energetic play, which is invaluable for their holistic growth and future academic success. These activities also set them up with confidence for later handwriting, crafting and everyday living skills.

Physical Activities for Kids at Tappy Toes Nursery

Play is at the heart of all we do at Tappy Toes Nursery. Through a wide variety of fun, energetic games and exercises, we nurture children’s development in body and mind. Our bright, stimulating nursery spaces are tailored with children’s interests, creativity and education in mind.

Some critical aspects of our physical activity focus include:

  • Dedicated daily time for free-flow, child-led exploration and play regardless of weather.  
  • Energetic and whole-body activities are incorporated with opportunities to build fine motor skills.
  • Resources and toys inspire gross motor skills like balance, coordination, strength and spatial awareness. 
  • Sensory experiences and imaginative play develop hand-eye control, problem-solving and cooperation. 
  • We track each child’s developmental milestones and tailor extra support where needed.

We’re incredibly proud of the holistic foundation our expert staff team provides for supporting every child’s all-round growth. Please contact us if you want your little one to join our nurturing nursery community. We’d be thrilled to welcome them!


Physical development in early childhood plays a crucial role. Through active, hands-on play experiences tailored to their abilities and interests, young children can build life-long habits for well-being. At Tappy Toes Nursery, valuing physical literacy through indoor and outdoor exploration, creative activities, and movement is at the heart of our learning philosophy. Together, we empower each child to develop confidence, skills and joyful attitudes towards an active lifestyle.

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