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EYFS Physical Literacy

1) Gross, fine and locomotive (movement) motor skills

There are three different types of motor skills: gross, fine and locomotive (or movement). Gross are those using the large muscles groups and are associated with large body movements, such as throwing or hopping. Fine motor skills are those that use the small muscle groups and are associated with controlled, delicate actions such as picking up a pencil. Locomotive skills are those where the body is moving through space such as running and jumping. This is the most complex skill to master because it requires coordination, balance and control of movement.

Children need to have their gross motor skills in place before fine motor skills can be mastered (Cooper and Doherty, 2010: 18) for activities such as writing and drawing. They must be able to coordinate their gross motor skills to have effective locomotive skills to be able to move safely and not trip or bump into things.

Links to Scoot Straight

Scoot Straight develops both gross and locomotive skills. The activities are designed to be suitable for children who are at different stages of their development. Children need to be able to move confidently through space, as well as coordinating their actions.

2) Vestibular

The vestibular sense is the sense of balance and is named after the parts of the inner ear that control balance. Children learn to maintain and correct their balance as their vestibular system develops. To develop the vestibular system, children must have plenty of physical experiences, with different ways of moving, such as using a swing, rolling down a hill or spinning round on the spot.

3) Kinesthesia

is the sense of relative muscles when in use, for example, when learning to play the piano. By repeating actions again and again, they become almost subconscious, sometimes called ‘muscle memory’. This is why it is important for children to practice, whether that is writing or tennis.

4) Proprioception

Proprioception is the sense of where your body is in space, for example, ‘knowing’ where the steps are when going upstairs, without having to look down, or knowing how much pressure you need to exert in your fingers to pick something up, without it slipping through your fingers or crushing it. Good proprioception means children can move confidently through space without bumping into anything, tie an apron behind their own back or know how far to stretch to reach something. As young children grow into teenagers and their bodies grow, they can sometimes lose their sense of proprioception. This is because their bodies have grown and are in a different place now – so teenagers can become clumsy or move awkwardly.

Links to ScootStraight

Using a scooter means children have to practice actions (kinaesthesia) to be able to use the scooter effectively. The sense of balance is very important when using a scooter, so it develops the vestibular system and because the child is in charge of its own scooter, it is at a rate that suits children’s development. Proprioception is developed by children having new and increasing more challenging activities, as designed by Scoot Straight.

5) Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) (dyspraxia)

Developmental Coordination Disorder (which used to be called dyspraxia) is when children have difficulties with coordination, movement and fine motor skills, such as doing up buttons or holding a pencil. Most children with DCD benefit from regular exercise (NHS Choices), especially when they practice the same movements over again.

Links to ScootStraight

ScootStraight is fun for children, so they do feel as if they are ‘having to do’ their exercise, which can be critical for these  children. The repeated exercises will help with movement and coordination.

6) Supporting writing skills

Children need to have core strength before they can sit steadily enough to write. This includes balance and muscle strength in the large muscles of the upper arms and shoulders. This has to be in place before they can use their fine motor control skills in the wrists and fingers.

Once all the muscle groups have been developed, children then need to have good hand to eye coordination to use them to write. ‘Movement and cognition are powerfully connected’ (Jensen, 2005) and regular exercise has been shown to improve key areas of the brain structure. This is particularly good for sensory integration, where both hemispheres of the brain work together.

Links to ScootStraight

ScootStraight develops children’s core strength as well as their other muscle groups. Having to listen and follow instructions, use their creativity and imagination, helps children’s sensory integration.

Links with the EYFS

7) Personal, Social and Emotional

Mastery disposition can be defined as a positive learning strategy for solving problems. With young children this means that they will try new activities and persevere on activities that they find had. This has a knock on effect in social development and working in groups, as children want to make friends and work together.

Links to ScootStraight

ScootStraight encourages perseverance and group work, building children’s self-esteem and self-confidence.

8) EYFS: Characteristics of Effective Learning

The Characteristics of Effective Learning (CofEL) describe how children interact with adults, peers and their environment. These are not what children need to know, but how they learn everything, whatever their stage of development or rate of progress. ScootStraight particularly supports the following areas of the Characteristics of Effective Learning:

9) Playing and exploring – Being willing to ‘have a go’

  • Initiating activities
  • Seeking challenge
  • Showing a ‘can do’ attitude
  • Taking a risk, engaging in new experiences, and learning by trial and error

10) Active learning – Being involved and concentrating

  • Maintaining focus on their activity for a period of time
  • Showing high levels of energy, fascination
  • Not easily distracted

11) Active learning – Keeping on trying

  • Persisting with activity when challenges occur

12) Risk and hazard

Children need to experience some risk, so they can develop strategies to reduce risks and know how to manage hazards if they occur. All activities need to have some risk management, where the benefits are weighed against the risks. Therefore, the benefits of all activities need to be fully understood so the risks can be balanced accurately and to help decision-making (Managing Risk in Play Provision, 2003: 41)

Links to ScootStraight

This programme has been running for some time, so the risks and the benefits are well understood. Any questions about risks, or hazards, can be addressed and are detailed in the programme.


Cooper, L. and Doherty, J. (2010) Physical Development London: Continuum Books

Development Matters

Florez, I. R. (2011) Developing Young Children’s Self-Regulation through Everyday

Experiences Young Children NAEYC

Jensen, E. (2005) Teaching with the Brain in Mind (2nd Ed) Alexandria: ASCD

Managing Risk in Play Provision: Implementation guide by David Ball, Tim Gill and

Bernard Spiegal http://www.playengland.org.uk/media/172644/managing-risk-inplay-provision.pdf

NHS Choices (2015) http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Dyspraxia-(childhood)/Pages/Treatment.aspx

Play England: http://www.playengland.org.uk/resources.aspx

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