They learn how to control, coordinate and balance their bodies, and start to develop an understanding of what they are capable of physically - and where their limitations lie.
Exploration of the environment in this way also provides opportunities for:
- decision making and problem solving
- creative and resourceful thinking
- learning about the self
- managing intense emotion e.g. fear, anxiety, excitement
Obviously safety is paramount, so when letting children engage in physical play it’s important to remove as many potential dangers as possible and ensure they are supervised constantly. Safe exploration can also be encouraged by teaching babies and toddlers skills like coming down steps/stairs backwards. Occasionally accidents will happen. And whilst this isn’t so great, it is mostly inevitable because climbing is inevitable – which is why it’s better to enable climbing as safely as possible, rather than try and prevent it. Not only that but sometimes minor slips and falls are needed for children to understand about dangers, and why we are constantly telling them to be careful!