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

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6.4 Pushing, pulling, lifting, steering

Young children often like to transport things. Sometimes there is a purpose for taking materials from one place to another, and at other times, transporting is just part of the play.

Providing a range of materials to transport, especially large heavy objects (wooden building blocks, pebbles or old tyres) with containers (buckets or baskets) provides opportunities for pushing, pulling and lifting. In an early years setting, this requires a flexible environment with lots of open-ended resources.

A young child pushing a wheelbarrow with toys in it
Figure 12

Wheeled vehicles offer further scope for children to transport objects, themselves and each other. Vehicles such as trikes, ride-on toys, dolls prams, push-along trolleys or wheelbarrows all require children to develop spatial awareness that extends past their own body, to coordinate their movement with that of the vehicle.

With opportunity for lots of different experiences, children come to understand how the vehicle moves differently on different surfaces and gradients, and how to adapt their own movement and the force required in response.