Physical Development in the Early Years

  • Hallam Conference Centre
  • November 7, 2023
  • Tuesday, 8.45 AM to 4.30 PM
  • Nursery World

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Physical Development in the Early Years

44 Hallam Street, Marylebone, London, W1W 6JJ

Tuesday, 8.45 AM to 4.30 PM
November 7, 2023


Nursery World

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Physical Development in the Early Years

44 Hallam Street, Marylebone, London, W1W 6JJ

Tuesday, 8.45 AM to 4.30 PM
November 7, 2023

Nursery World Event Main Image


Explore the connections between physical movement and brain development from birth onwards, and learn why children need to be supported to move in a variety of ways depending on their age at Nursery World's one-day conference on physical development.

The conference will provide insight, advice and practical strategies from experienced practitioners, academics and consultants around how to review and evaluate your current practice to enhance the quality of physical development on offer.

It will leave delegates feeling inspired and empowered to put physical development at the heart of their provision.

Early years expert speakers on the day include:


Sally Goddard Blythe, Author, Director of Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology

Keynote: 'What children’s bodies and brains need'
An overview of why physical development is one of the prime areas of learning and how it underpins children’s learning and development from birth. At a time when children are becoming increasingly sedentary, Sally Goddard Blythe shares her decades of neuro-physiological research to demonstrate how children’s bodies and minds work together and why this underpins their learning and development. This session will explore:

  • Children’s in-built biological need to move and challenge their bodies in different ways
  • How varied aspects of movement support children’s motor development - from eye movements to hand control
  • The link between physical development and development of emotional security
  • How to ensure children have enabling environments that are developmentally appropriate for their physical needs
  • Supporting a child to be ‘well balanced’ and how this impacts on their school readiness


Dr Lala Manners. Director ActiveMatters

Keynote: 'Getting everyone moving: some top tips'
How does the way practitioners feel about moving and being active impact their daily practice? Dr Lala Manners discusses how what is good for children is also good for adults and shares top tips for everyday moving together.


Julia Manning-Morton. Independent Early Years Consultant, Trainer and Author
Keynote: 'Physical development in under threes'
Julia Manning-Morton considers the complexity of physical development in the first three years of life and introduces the Piklerian idea of naturally unfolding motor development. She discusses physical development as a central component of the web of development and the relationship between infants’ experiences of movement, touch and being held, and their emergent self-concept.

She will also focus on environments, resources and practices that support the physical development of babies and toddlers and identify those that inhibit free movement, such as ‘containerisation’ and ‘tummy time’.


Workshops (choose A, B or C)

12:00 - 13:00
A. Embodied learning: bringing movement play indoors
Hear about the value of indoor Movement Play Areas – places for children to draw upon their body intelligence alongside their cognitive intelligence - and look at creating one in your own setting to enable child-led, spontaneous free flow movement play to become a key part of the learning environment. This session will explore:
• the merits of bringing movement play indoors when you have a fabulous outdoor area
• what kinds of learning happen there and what that learning looks like
• ways to set up this space to support new physical development practice
• the roles adults can take to create and support the Area to promote maximum learning, health and happiness

Penny Greenland. Director. Jabadao
Catherine Wilks. Trainer and Project Practitioner. Jabadao

12:00 - 13:00
B. Developing your physical development practice
Get moving in this workshop that will provide ideas and tools to help you confidently support children to develop their fundamental early years skills - including balance, co-ordination and spatial awareness - through engaging everyday activities that you can take back to your setting.

Tania Swift. Director. B Inspired

12:00 - 13:00
C. Supporting self-initiated free movement
This interactive workshop will explore Emmi Pikler’s ideas about the importance of self-initiated free movement for the natural progression of physical development in infants and young children. Using guided experiential activity based on the work of Ute Strub - a student then colleague of Emmi Pikler – delegates can regain awareness of their own movement patterns and so gain greater insight into the child’s experience. This benefits us in better understanding and nurturing the physical unfolding of babies and young children.

Rachel Tapping. Chair. Pikler UK Association

14:00 - 14:30
Using the MOVERS scale to measure and enhance the quality of physical development
The physical foundations for learning need to be secure to ensure young children are equipped to cope with the demands of later, more formal classroom learning with balance, posture and coordination all playing an important role. Professor Iram Siraj highlights the importance of physical development and its connection to other domains of learning: cognitive and social-emotional. She introduces delegates to the MOVERS scale, a method of measuring the quality of environment and pedagogy in which young children are encouraged to move and be physically active. She also considers how the MOVERS scale can be used to improve the quality of teaching and learning for young children.

Iram Siraj. Professor of Child Development and Education at the Department of Education University of Oxford

14:30 - 15:00
CASE STUDY: Maximising physical development outdoors
Hear how practitioners at Brougham Street Nursery School use responsive planning to utilise their small but valuable outdoor learning environment to support children’s physical development. Their outdoor space is limited, but they ensure their development opportunities are not - whether that’s through active play at Forest School, embracing a trajectory schema by installing a basketball hoop, or by being an effective contributor in their local community.

Dr Alison Stewart. Headteacher. Brougham Street Nursery School, Skipton, North Yorkshire
Harris Payne. Brougham Street Nursery School, Skipton, North Yorkshire. Room Leader

15:20 - 15:50
CASE STUDY: Embracing rough and tumble play
Discover how staff at Hargrave Park School successfully and safely adopted rough and tumble play, and how it had a positive impact on children’s physical and literacy skills.

Carla Jones. Assistant Headteacher EYFS and KS1. Hargrave Park School, North London
Rachna Joshi. Early Childhood Teacher and Consultant

15:50 - 16:25
CLOSING KEYNOTE Motion and emotion: exploring grief and loss through movement play and dance
Recent times have made us more aware of the need to support children with the difficult emotions surrounding grief and loss through death and bereavement. But these topics are always relevant for children – particularly when they are dealing with big emotions around separation and transition - which are not unlike the feelings experienced by adults when they are grieving the loss of a loved one. This session will look at some of the ways we can use movement play, music and dance to ‘tune into’ children’s emotions, enabling them to safely explore difficult feelings and be supported through them.

Anne O’Connor. Independent Early Years Consultant

Booking and Fees
Tickets can be booked via nurseryworldphysicaldevelopmentintheearlyyears2023
Early Bird (available until 15 September): £ 269.00 +VAT (20%)

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