Young boy connecting model train coaches

Physical Development (PD)

Physical Development

What is it?

Physical development is as the title suggests about how babies and young children gain control of their bodies, but it also includes how children learn about keeping themselves active and healthy and how they learn to use equipment and materials successfully and safely.

In the Revised Early Years Foundation Stage, Physical Development is broken down into two aspects:

  • Moving and Handling
  • Health and Self-Care

Moving and Handling

We often take for granted the way we move about in a crowd avoiding all the people around us – yet little children have to learn skills such as walking, balancing and not bumping into things. As well as developing the gross motor skills required to move about children also need to develop control of all the smaller muscles which move when we pick something up or put it down – these take time to develop and come through using and playing with objects such as spoons, beakers, cars, jigsaws and other playthings. From this early start children develop body-confidence which encourages them to want to push a car along a track, ride a scooter or jump in a puddle. As children develop control and coordination they eventually learn how to handle items such as a felt pen, a pair of scissors or a paint brush.

Health and Self-Care

Through Health and Self-care children find out about the effects of a healthy life style on their bodies. This includes all the factors that affect healthy development including making healthy choices in relation to food. It also includes managing their personal needs, such as dressing, when it is appropriate.


Recent publication:

Physical Development by Dr. Jonathan Doherty


Please note that the Principles into Practice cards below refer to the EYFS 2007, they are not linked to the Revised EYFS.

Physical Development

Health and Well-being

Keeping Safe