Developmental Movement Play (DMP)

DMP is about making sure that children grow up with life in every limb - because it aids development and lays the foundations for lifelong wellbeing

What is DMP?

Developmental Movement Play (DMP) is concerned with children’s   full-bodied, wholehearted physical responses to the whole of their everyday lives and learning. 


It is a model - and a framework - developed over an eleven year period with the participation of 82 early years practitioners as research partners, and with a total investment (from JABADAO, the Arts Council and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation) of over £689.000.


After eleven years of research and development, together we created:

  • new evidence-based understanding about the importance of early movement for devleopment and learning

  • a training course for early years practitioners that gives them 'a new way of seeing' children's movement

  • simple, but radical ideas about what needs to change to ake sure children move more, and in helpful ways, in early years settings

  • ways to talk to parents about what is important


In 2009 the R&D phase of the on-going work ended, with the final report presented at a national conference chaired by Baroness Morris of Yardley, Minister of State Department for Education and Employment) (School Standards) 1998 - 2001, Secretary of State for Education and Skills (2001-2002) and Minister of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Arts) (2003-2005).

The evidence base

The research and development happened over four phases.


1998 - 2000:    Consultation in over 1,000 workshops across England and


2000 - 2002:    Development of a new draft training approach, based on

                          the results of the consultation

2002 - 2005:    14 Early Years settings tested the approach over a three

                          year period                                                                

                          Analysis of research and re-development of the training

2007 - 2009:    12 more Early Years settings tested the approach again

                          Final research report published



DMP is about what young children's bodies need. And what they love. And the links.

And how this impacts on development, learning, health and wellbeing.

What we teach in the DMP model
  • simple developmental movement theory explaining why and how early movement plays an important role in child development 

  • how this supports many areas of the curriculum, not just physical development

  • the kinds of movement that support different aspects of development and learning

  • critical appraisal of  the things that hinder children from getting what they need physically and ways to overcome these

  • the need for fundamental changes in attitude and understanding in order to make a real difference to ways children can inhabit their bodies

  • the value of a child-led, play-based approach to ensure  each child gets what they need

  • a framework to hold all this information in a simple way, and to support observation, planning and assessment

  • the difference bewteen a developmental approach and a standard PE or adult-led approach

  • the concept of a 'helpful adult' who creates opportunities for children through the environment, resources and experiences they create

  • ways to create environments, resources and experiences that support each child's developmental needs through a child-led, play-based approach

  • the importance of movement observation

  • the importance of working in partnership - parents, early years settings and schools

"I have a new pair of eyes since doing the DMP training ... I see children's movement differently now."