Physical Development


Physical activity is vital in children’s all-round development, enabling them to pursue happy, healthy and active lives. Gross and fine motor experiences develop incrementally throughout early childhood, starting with sensory explorations and the development of a child’s strength, coordination and positional awareness through tummy time, crawling and play movement with both objects and adults. By creating games and  providing opportunities for play both indoors and outdoors, adults can  support children to develop their core strength, stability, balance, spatial awareness, co-ordination and agility.


Gross motor skills provide the foundation for developing healthy bodies and social and emotional well-being. Fine motor control and precision helps with hand-eye  coordination which is later linked to early literacy. Repeated and varied opportunities to explore and play with small world activities, puzzles, arts and crafts and the practise of using small tools, with feedback and support from adults, allow children to develop proficiency, control and confidence.

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Here are the age related expectations (Early Learning Goals) for these two aspects of learning by the end of Reception:

ELG: Gross Motor Skills

Children at the expected level of development will:  

  • Negotiate space and obstacles safely, with consideration for  themselves and others;  
  • Demonstrate strength, balance and coordination when playing; 
  • Move energetically, such as running, jumping, dancing, hopping,  skipping and climbing. 

ELG: Fine Motor Skills

Children at the expected level of development will:  

  • Hold a pencil effectively in preparation for fluent writing – using the tripod grip in almost all cases;  
  • Use a range of small tools, including scissors, paint brushes and cutlery;  
  • Begin to show accuracy and care when drawing.