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Health & Physical Development

Health and Physical Development Domain

The Health and Physical Development domain focuses on children’s physical growth, motor development, sound nutritional choices, self-care, and health and safety practices. Healthy children who are able to move and play are ready to learn more effectively in all domains.

Health and Physical Development Domain Book Recommendations

Physical Growth/Nutrition

A child’s body goes through a period of rapid growth from birth to age five. Because children’s bodies more than double in size and their brains develop rapidly, establishing good health and eating habits is important. Good nutrition promotes not only physical growth and health, but cognitive skills such as memory, problem solving and decision-making. Teachers and caregivers should provide time for children to play and participate in a variety of activities in a risk-free, noncompetitive environment.


Young children develop motor skills that support coordination and physical fitness. Developmental milestones don’t occur at the same time for all children, but growth and motor development follow similar sequence as their skill build. From crawling to walking, running to playing organized games.


Health and physical development also include children’s independence carrying out personal routines. This grows when children begin to participate in individual routines. Such as:

Because children show greater independence as they grow older, caregivers and teachers should work with families to decide when and how to promote children’s self-care routines.

It’s important to know that each child develop at his or her own pace. However, teachers and caregivers may be the first to notice that a child’s development is not consistent with typical expectations. Additional evaluation may be needed if a child is not meeting many or all of the Early Learning Guidelines.

Component: Physical Health and Growth

Goal HPD-1: Children develop healthy eating habits.

Goal HPD-2: Children engage in active physical play indoors and outdoors.

Goal HPD-3: Children develop healthy sleeping habits.

Component: Motor Development

Goal HPD-4: Children engage in play and movement to develop the large muscle control and abilities needed to explore and move in their environment.

Goal HPD-5: Children engage in play and experiences to develop muscle control and hand-eye coordination to manipulate objects and work with tools.

Component: Self-Care, Safety, and Well-Being

Goal HPD-6: Children develop personal hygiene and self-care skills.

Goal HPD-7: Children use safe behaviors and personal safety practices with support from adults.

HPD Goal 1