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Supporting physical development in early childhood
Supporting physical development in early childhood

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5.3 Supporting the development of movement

When supporting the development of FMS, it is not necessary to teach skills in isolation. In fact, FMS can and should be acquired organically through play, experimenting in different environments, contexts and under various task constraints or guided play activities.

One child sat on a skateboard, another child pushing the skateboard
Figure 9

Thinking back to earlier in this week, when you looked at the guidelines for physical activity, you may be able to recall the UK CMO (2019) infographic for physical activity for early years. At the bottom of that graphic it states ‘Get Strong. Move More. Break up inactivity’.

By breaking up inactivity you will help to ensure that you are supporting physical development and allowing children to reach the target of 180 minutes of physical activity per day. What you can observe during active periods is where you will now focus your attention.

Movements will be learnt best through the creation of a culture where movement is infused into the early years setting, celebrated and often presented as positive challenges to the children. Through such movement cultures, practitioners should aim to establish a child’s level of physical development as early as possible and monitor over the course of time that is spent supporting that individual child (i.e. weeks, months, years).

It is only through time that disciplined and systematically focussed observations of the critical features of each FMS can take place. The observer must themselves learn the skill of observation and analysis to become effective at identifying the development needs of each child more efficiently (Hayward and Getchell, 2014).

Activity 5

The following steps are the critical movement features of a developed throwing action:

  1. A long contralateral step – i.e. stepping forwards with the opposite foot to the throwing arm over a distance of more than half the child’s standing height.
  2. The throwing arm rotates backwards as the step is taken.
  3. The trunk rotates forward to add force to the throw.
  4. The throwing arm comes forward as, or just after, the trunk rotates to a front-facing position. This creates lag in the arm to create more force in the throw.

Now, identify what you would consider to be the top 3 or 4 critical movement features of the following developed FMS: crawling on all 4s (also termed creeping) and jumping.

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For crawling on all 4s (termed creeping), we would expect to see that the child is able to support their own body weight with their stomach off the floor (stomach on the floor is termed crawling), and that they can move with their legs and arms working alternately – i.e. that they can support themselves on one hand and the opposite leg as they move.

For jumping, we would expect to see the feet leaving the ground at the same time, the legs extending at the knees after the heels leave the floor and that the arms swing backwards before swinging forward to a position overhead at take-off.