Importance of physical development in children

Updated April 17, 2017

Physical activity not only promotes healthy bodies, it teaches children ways to master gross and fine motor skills and coordination so they can explore the world around them. Physical development in children takes into account height and weight as well. Parents, caregivers and teachers have numerous tools available to them for encouraging the various stages of physical growth and development.


Children begin their physical development, exploring through touch, taste, sound, sight and smell, leading to recognition of themes and patterns. Infants and toddlers start "travelling," first crawling, then pulling up and climbing, followed by walking. Children start with gross motor skills (large muscle movements), then add fine motor skills (grasping and buttoning shirts). They refine their motor skills with coordination and balance, enabling them to combine actions---running and kicking a ball, for instance. Balance and coordination take time to develop, which parents and caregivers can support by providing a safe environment to learn these skills.


Two key elements in children's development of coordination and spatial relationships are age and practice. The adults in a child's life can get children started in activities and monitor their enthusiasm; children will succeed more if they enjoy their activities. Setting up activity logs provides a measurable record of their progress, further encouraging their physical development. Infants love being encouraged to crawl, pull up and walk. Older children love artistic and sports activities. Keeping healthy foods around for meals and snacking benefits proper height and weight development.


Development of physical skills provides children tools that can be applied both in the classroom and in extra-curricular activities. Some children need extra practice to work on motor skills and coordination. If they are not given the extra time and practice, their development in other areas---like academics---could be hindered. Physical activity is an effective stress-buster and promotes healthy self-esteem as well as strong bones, muscles and joints.


Artistic activities add valuable visual stimuli for visual learners and stimulates mental muscles that encourage concentration, a necessary academic skill. Aerobic activities move large muscle groups, and improve heart and lung function. Flexibility activities promote stretching and bending, loosening up muscles and joints and lessening injuries. Strength activities build muscles, helping children manage the demands of daily life.


Children develop motor skills from exploring their environment, which unfortunately, comes with the occasional cuts and bruises. To keep children healthy, offer children a nutritious diet and plenty of water, while keeping fatty, salty and sweet foods to a minimum. Providing safe school and home environments and supervising activities at other locations (i.e. playgrounds and swimming pools) will minimise injuries. Cleaning clothes, toys and household items with non-toxic cleaners reduces illness. And taking children to the physician for routine checkups, or when health issues occur, will reassure parents that their children's physical development is on course.

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About the Author

Joan Whetzel has been writing professionally since 1998. She has written juvenile nonfiction, movie and television scripts and adult nonfiction. Her juvenile nonfiction has appeared in such magazines as "Tech Directions," "Connect" and "Class Act." She was part of the production team that produced the documentary "Fuel for Thought" on Houston PBS. She has also written articles for Katy Magazine Online.