1st Edition

Promoting Physical Development and Activity in Early Childhood Practical Ideas for Early Years Settings

    180 Pages 13 Color Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    180 Pages 13 Color Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    Getting young children active and supporting their physical development right from the start is essential for children’s all-round development and good health. However, children’s levels of physical activity are declining. This book helps readers increase their understanding to support young children’s overall development, health, and wellbeing.

    Breaking current physical activity guidelines into bite-size chunks, the book provides key advice on caring for and educating babies and young children on how to meet the recommended amount of physical activity each day. Current research is accessibly explored, including links with screen time and neuroscience, and informs a range of flexible, open-ended activities and practical strategies to use in every early years setting. Chapters include:

    • Suggestions on planning an enabling environment to support young children’s physical development without expensive equipment or classes.
    • Steps for making physical activity inclusive for all children, including those with special educational needs and physical conditions.
    • Key research translated into easy-to-understand, informative guidance.
    • The voice of the child and the importance of listening to children woven throughout.
    • Opportunities for readers to assess how their own setting supports physical activity.
    • The importance of early physical development to communication and future academic performance.

    Grounded in best practice for supporting physical development in the early years and working with parents, this book is essential reading for trainee and practising early years educators, as well as parents and carers of young children.

    Series Advisor foreword



    Chapter overview


    Chapter 1: What is growth and development?

    Chapter 2: Body systems, senses and physical development

    Chapter 3: Supporting physical development in children

    Chapter 4:  Movement and learning

    Chapter 5: Play and physical development in early childhood

    Chapter 6: Health and physical development

    Chapter 7: Putting it into practice


    Jackie Musgrave is part of the Early Childhood team at The Open University. Jackie trained as a Registered General Nurse and then a Sick Children’s Nurse, working in a range of different paediatric specialisms, including working as a Paediatric Asthma Nurse in the community. She started her teaching career in Further Education before moving into teaching Higher Education in 2005. Her research brings together her interests in children’s health and early childhood education. Jackie has numerous publications related to child health and early childhood education.

    Jane Dorrian joined the Early Childhood team at The Open University in 2022 after teaching on undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She started her career as a nursery teacher in the south Wales valleys and also worked as a Local Authority advisory teacher for early years. Her research has looked at the professional identities of early childhood practitioners and she is also interested in young children’s physical literacy, with her recent projects looking at how engagement in children’s physical activity affects the wellbeing of parents and carers.

    Joanne Josephidou is Programme Lead of the Early Childhood team at The Open University. She was a primary school teacher for many years, working predominantly in the Early Years. She has taught in both Teacher Education and on Early Childhood Studies programmes. Her research explores opportunities for babies and toddlers to engage with the outdoors and nature.

    Ben Langdown is a Senior Lecturer in Sports Coaching at The Open University (The OU) and has published various papers and chapters in the areas of movement cultures, physical development, and sports science. Ben’s applied interests focus on fostering a movement culture, supporting children’s physical activity and development, and the application of strength and conditioning to support this. Specifically, Ben's research focuses on children’s physical development, athlete monitoring, and training interventions. Alongside Ben’s academic role, he also provides sports science and strength and conditioning support to young athletes. He has presented at many international conferences and delivered keynote presentations and workshops to support practitioners in various youth sports and disciplines. Further information can be found on Ben’s academic profile (The OU) and by following @BenLangdown on X (Twitter).

    Lucy Rodriguez Leon is a Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at The Open University. Before teaching in Higher Education, Lucy spent 16 years working at a nursery school in the east of England. Her research and publications focus on how babies and young children engage with literacies and make meaning from multimodal texts in their active play and in their everyday lives. Lucy is also interested in Early Years Workforce Development and was a member of a research team that undertook a systematic review of international research evidence on the impact of staff training and qualifications.

    "This book is not just for the early years workforce, it's for everyone and anyone who is interested in helping babies and children to develop effectively, from parents to grandparents, to nursery staff and child minders – if you look after a preschool child, this book is written for you!" - Angela Baker, Public Health Consultant