Physical/ Health and Safety

How to Teach About Physical Development/ Health and Safety

How to teach about physical development/ health and safety based on the Physical/Health and Safety Standards in Utah’s Early Childhood Core Standards.

Physical/ Health and Safety Standards

How to Teach About Physical Development/ Health and Safety

One of the biggest tasks children have to accomplish is learning how to use and care for their bodies. Their physical skills are developing extremely rapidly. And as they develop these new skills, they gain more responsibility for caring for themselves. 


Humans are incredible. We literally go from babies that can’t even hold our head up, to controlling our bodies with ease in just a few short years. Physical development is generally broken down into two categories: gross motor and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are large body movements such as walking, running, jumping, etc. Fine motor skills are the ability to use the hands and wrists with precision in completing a task. 

Preschool aged children are mastering the coordination of both their gross and fine motor skills. Here are some skills they should be developing during this stage:

Gross Motor

  1. Demonstrate control and balance during movements that move the child from one place to another. (walking forward in a straight line, hopping, running, jumping over low objects)
  2. Demonstrates coordination and balance in movements that do not move the child from one place to another. (balancing on one foot, moving body parts in isolation)
  3. Demonstrates control of large muscles to manipulate objects. (throws, catches, and kicks balls, rides wheeled toys)
  4. Exhibits control of body movement through space. (runs and stops, changes directions while in motion, moves in response to a cue, and dances)

Fine Motor

  1. Can use hands, wrists, and fingers to turn objects, such as to screw on a lid. 
  2. Can use fingers to button and zip.
  3. Coordinates finger and wrist movements to control scissors.
  4. Can use a single finger to push a button.
  5. Holds a pencil or other writing tool with a mature pincer grasp.
  6. Demonstrates hand-eye coordination. 
  7. Can coordinate hands to pour from one object to another. 
  8. Can strike at a stationary object.
  9. Coordinates arm and hand movements to create art. 

Health and Safety

Preschool children are developing an understanding of their own health and safety. This looks like:

  1. Developing independence in personal hygiene and care.
  2. Play outdoor games.
  3. Uses equipment properly.
  4. Begins to maintain personal boundaries when participating in movement activities. 
  5. Eats food from a variety of food groups. 
  6. Follows safety rules.
  7. Begins to identify helpful and harmful substances for their body. 

Especially on farms and ranches, children’s safety is very important. This will look different on every operation, but it is important that children are aware of safety rules and have help following those rules. 

Parents support gross motor development when they…

You support your child’s gross motor development when you:

-Teach, model, and maintain proper safety rules. 

-Teach, model, and provide many opportunities to run, gallop, throw, catch, hop, kick, dance, jump, climb, pull, carry, stretch, bend, twist and move isolated parts of the body.

-Provide a safe, spacious environment to practice large motor skills. 

-Continually encourage, challenge, and stretch your child’s large motor skills. 

-Provide a variety of equipment and opportunities that encourage development of large motor skills. 

-Participate in gross motor activities with your child. 

-Teach traditional games such as soccer, tag, etc. 

-Provide appropriate clothing and safety gear for activities. 

Parents support fine motor development when they…

You support your child’s fine motor development when you:

Teach, model, and provide many opportunities to practice building with large and small blocks, molding clay, using scissors or tongs, stringing beads, placing pegs in holes, assembling puzzles, using a computer mouse, and using a variety of writing utensils (pencils, crayons, markers) and art mediums (painting, printing, manipulating clay, stamping). Basically anything that uses the hands and wrists. 

Parents support health and safety development when they…

You support your child’s health and safety development when you:

-Establish routines that promote healthy habits (such as hand washing, putting on a coat, or wiping own nose)

-Model healthy eating habits.

-Teach, model, and maintain proper rules that promote safety and well being. 

-Teach proper use of tools and equipment in order to promote safety.

-Provide healthy choices at snack and mealtimes. 

-Provide opportunities to role-play healthy habits.

-Give instructions on basic community safety rules (like wearing seat belts, crossing at crosswalks, stranger danger, etc.)

For more on how to teach about physical development/ health and safety

To take a deeper dive into what children are learning during early childhood, how to support that learning, and activities to try- check out my early childhood 101 course.

For an overview on basic principles of learning and development that apply to all areas, see this post.

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