Physical Development & Health

The Physical Development & Health domain describes children’s physical well-being, knowledge of their body, health, safety, and nutrition practices, and development of motor skills. Children who have health problems, delays in development, and frequent illness may suffer from a range of poor educational outcomes. Children’s knowledge of their body and health impact their development of healthy habits early in life, habits which are key to life-long health. This domain includes skills that enable children to develop healthy habits, such as staying safe, performing self-care tasks independently of others, exercising, and eating healthy food. The development of motor skills allows children to explore and learn about their world and develop healthy bodies.

Physical Development & Health

Children may . . .

Children may. . .

Suggested Supports
Adults may . . .

1. Health Safety and Nutrition: The maintenance of healthy and age appropriate physical well-being, and understanding of healthy and safe habits and practicing healthy habits.

  1. Possess good overall health, including oral, visual, and auditory health, and is free from communicable or preventable diseases.
  2. Participate in prevention and management of chronic health conditions and avoid toxins, such as lead.
  3. Maintain physical growth within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended ranges for weight by height by age.
  4. Get sufficient rest and exercise to support healthy development.*
  5. Complete personal care tasks, such as dressing, brushing teeth, toileting, and washing hands independently from adults.*
  6. Communicate an understanding of the importance of health and safety routines and rules.*
  7. Follow basic health and safety rules and respond appropriately to harmful or unsafe situations.*
  8. Distinguish food on a continuum from most healthy to less healthy.
  9. Eat a variety of nutritious foods.
  10. Participate in structured and unstructured physical activities.*
  11. Recognize the importance of doctor and dentist visits.
  12. Cooperate during doctor and dentist visits and health and developmental screening.
  • Participate in games, outdoor play, and other forms of exercise to enhance physical fitness.
  • Play visual and auditory discrimination games such as “I spy” and take listening walks.
  • Participate in health education for families and children.
  • Follow consistent routines regarding washing hands.
  • Brainstorm all the ways teeth are important (e.g., appearance, chewing, talking).
  • Listen to stories about teeth, losing teeth.
  • Grow vegetables in a garden.
  • Help to prepare a variety of healthy snacks and meals, and talk about ingredients.
  • Create books, charts, collages, or displays with pictures of healthy/unhealthy foods, or a picture menu of health food choices.
  • Talk about the nutritional value of various foods and the relationship between a healthy diet and overall health and fitness.
  • Identify and use local health, medical, and dental resources.
  • Encourage vision and hearing screening.
  • Make sure children are properly dressed for weather conditions and activities.
  • Ensure safety of children through adherence to state and local regulations.
  • Protect children from abuse and neglect.
  • Establish routines for eating, rest, and bedtime.
  • Aim for 10-13 hours/24 hours of sleeping (including naps)
  • Turn off the television and other screens one hour before bedtime and make child’s room a screen-free zone.
  • Help child sleep with a cool room (less than 75 degrees). If child appears to have trouble breathing, snores, is restless with frequent kicking during sleep, contact child’s doctor.
  • Encourage children to show independence in self-care tasks, helping when necessary (e.g., brushing teeth, wiping nose, dressing, toileting, washing hands, feeding oneself).
  • Teach and model basic health and safety rules (e.g., washing hands, covering mouth when coughing or sneezing, taking care when using sharp objects, looking both ways before crossing streets, and wearing a helmet when bicycling).
  • Discuss with children appropriate responses to potentially dangerous situations and teach safety rules (e.g., bus safety, playground safety, staying with the group, knowing personal identification information, fire drills).
  • Secure adequate nutrition for children and introduce children to a variety of healthy foods.
  • Provide time for physical activity.

2. Gross Motor Skills: The control of large muscles for movement, navigation, and balance.

  1. Develop motor control and balance for a range of physical activities, such as walking, propelling a wheelchair or mobility device, skipping, running, climbing, and hopping.*
  2. Develop motor coordination and skill in using objects for a range of physical activities, such as pulling, throwing, catching, kicking, bouncing or hitting balls, and riding a tricycle.
  3. Understand movement concepts, such as control of the body, how the body moves (such as an awareness of space and directionality), and that the body can move independently or in coordination with other objects.*
  • Walk, run, hop, or gallop when moving from one place to another.
  • Balance on one leg.
  • Pretend to be various jumping or crawling creatures (e.g., rabbit, frog, kangaroo, grasshopper, snake, lizard).
  • Combine large muscle movements with equipment (e.g., riding a tricycle, using a slide or swings, bouncing a ball).
  • Engage in activities that involve climbing, rocking, swinging, rolling, spinning, jumping, or being turned upside-down.
  • Make physical activity a big part of children’s daily life.
  • Provide adequate space and age-appropriate equipment and materials, with adaptations as needed.
  • Supervise and participate in daily outdoor play.
  • Plan daily physical activities that are vigorous as well as developmentally and individually appropriate.
  • Provide appropriate modifications for children with special needs.

3. Fine Motor Skills:  The control of small muscles for such purposes as using utensils, self-care, building, and exploring.

  1. Develop hand strength and dexterity.
  2. Develop eye-hand coordination to use everyday tools, such as pitchers for pouring or utensils for eating.
  3. Manipulate a range of objects, such as blocks or books.
  4. Manipulate writing, drawing, and art tools.
  • Engage in activities that enhance hand-eye coordination, such as using eating utensils, dressing themselves, building with blocks, creating with clay or play dough, putting puzzles together, and stringing beads.
  • Link paper clips to make necklaces.
  • Create puppet shows with finger puppets.
  • Provide adequate time for drawing, cutting, and handwriting development.
  • Provide modeling materials (e.g., play dough, clay) and activities (e.g. beads, Legos, small blocks) to strengthen hand and develop fine motor coordination.
  • Provide handheld tools, such as spoons, paintbrushes, crayons, markers, tweezers, eyedroppers, garlic press, clothespins, and safety scissors, with adaptations as needed.
  • Provide adaptive writing utensils for children with fine motor delays.
  • Show child how you use drawing and writing tools in your daily activities.