Being physically active is an important part of children’s growth and development. It supports them to gain control of their bodies and grow in confidence. They learn that physical activity feels good and helps release tension which is great for their wellbeing.

Learning and development 
About BestStart

BestStart is for families who want more from early-childhood education. Safe, nurturing and educationally focused, we’re committed to growing caring people with curious minds. Together we teach, learn and nurture.Our vision is to work in partnership with families, whanau and communities to enable children to achieve their learning potential.


Physical play is as important for brain development and it is for health and wellbeing. The brain connections and neural pathways that are formed in the early years set the foundations for how the brain will develop throughout life.

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Physical play is as important for brain development and it is for health and wellbeing. The brain connections and neural pathways that are formed in the early years set the foundations for how the brain will develop throughout life.

BestStart centres have open access to the outdoors for most of the day. Children have space for running, throwing balls, skipping, balancing and doing obstacle courses. Teachers provide a full range of physical challenges help children build a range of physical, social and emotional competencies.

Activities such as crawling, walking, jumping, skipping, turning, twirling and rolling create neural connections that grow stronger over time as the movements are repeated. Children’s confidence grows when they learn to control their bodies by developing their large muscles, strength, co-ordination and balance.

Physically active play increases the heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain, providing an excellent environment for the growth of brain cells.

In addition to helping maintain a healthy body physical play helps to build healthy bones, muscles, heart and lungs.

Physical play helps children develop their motor skills and strengthens their concentration and thinking skills. Young children who are regularly engaged in physical activities improve their attention, problem-solving and persistence skills.

A New Zealand study has shown a big difference in the ability to understand geometry concepts in children who have experienced a lot of physical play.

Teachers provide a range of physical challenges to help children develop their flexibility and coordination through using their large and small muscles in different ways.

The ways that teachers talk about physical play helps children develop an understanding of various spatial concepts like under/over, in front/behind/next to, as well as learning early maths ideas such as long/short, big/small wide/narrow.

Learning to take turns, cooperate and share are important social skills that are practised in group physical games.

Children come to understand that physical activity is fun and can release tension. Adults can support children by coaching them to better manage their emotions through various activities.

Physically Active Play | Korikori tinana

Continuing the learning at home

Anything that promotes crawling, balancing, walking, climbing, running, swinging, pushing, pulling, jumping, hopping, skipping, crouching, twirling. As children grow in their physical ability increase the challenges.

Get some balls of different sizes to kick, roll or throw. Rolling or throwing a ball back and forth with others creates a sense of teamwork, helping to build relationships.

Go on a walk in the bush or to a park. Seek out local areas where children have the freedom to run and explore.

Create a simple obstacle course to challenge children’s physical abilities and encourage problem solving. Try going under a net, over a crate, through a cardboard box, stepping on shapes or into tires – just use whatever is handy – you’ll be surprised at what you can do!

Skipping ropes are great for developing coordination in older children.

Plastic cones help define areas for play to occur and to work around.

A swing can provide hours of fun. Not only are they great for developing muscles and coordination, they are great for stress release and create a sense of freedom – singing and swinging often go hand-in-hand!

Rainy days don’t need to be inside days. Provide children with waterproof overalls, umbrellas and gumboots so they can play outside, it’s great for the senses and adds another whole aspect to outdoor play.

Click here to for a great sack jumping activity