Section 7: The stages of development of children aged 2 – 5 in relation to planning an inclusive physical play activity session

It is important to look at physical play from a holistic perspective, taking into consideration different areas of a child’s development. There are five areas of development that look at how children change and grow over time. These are broken into ages or stages that are also known as milestones. Awareness of these milestones will help when planning your physical play session.

Social development – development of friendships and learning social skills such as taking turns when playing with toys

Emotional development – this involves how children learn to express and deal with their feelings.

Physical development – development of the body. There are two different types of physical skills that children need to develop:

  • Gross motor skills, or large muscle movement. ‘Gross’ in this context means ‘large’ and ‘motor’ means ‘movement’. For example, the muscles in our legs and arms that we use for running or throwing
  • Fine motor skills, or small muscle movement. For example, those in our hands that we use to manipulate objects such as a knife and fork or to hold a pencil for writing

Cognitive development – development of the mind for thinking, using our memory and working things out

Language development – development of speech and communication skills

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