• The JABADAO Team

Early Learning Goals

If you’ve listened to #Episodes1 and #Episode2 of the JABADAO podcast, you’ll know we’ve been thinking a lot about the early years physical development curriculum recently. Here - we’re starting at the end. With some ideas about early learning goals for a progressive - embodied - curriculum. You can find this on #Episode3, but as they are quite hard to take in while listening, we thought it would be a good idea to write them here too.

Everything we observe and research as a team, around what children’s bodies need and how we support that, screams child-led and play based as the effective pedagogical approach.

You can teach advanced movement skills, say in a sporting or dance context - but you can’t teach sensory perception or developmental movement patterns. They have to be found in the body - not put on like an overcoat. Our adult job is to the opportunities to find them.

The good news is that babies and children are hardwired to get what they need - they are infant experts in physical development.

The problem of course, is when something gets in the way of that development unfolding naturally. And much does. Our very cognitively focused culture for one; and disadvantage and challenging life circumstances massively affect how physical development happens.

Bringing all this together, we have made a first stab at what we think the aims and goals of a progressive curriculum might be. There is lots of work to do, to flesh out the detailed aims and pedagogy. And to revisit the milestones that rest alongside (See Podcast #Episode1) or our next Blog.

So here is our first go at bringing this all together.

Education Programme

Children readily engage in physical play as an important and nearly constant part of their day. They show high levels of wellbeing as they engage and their movement play reflects and celebrates their own unique life.

Children routinely both affirm and extend their body awareness and their developing physical skills through free-flow movement play of their own devising. They engage in whole-bodied sensory play, floor play, halfway play and upright play - on their own, with their peers and with adults.

Children know how to seek what their body needs, especially in challenging circumstances, and how to find and use resources to achieve this. Children know the adults around them will respect and understand their endeavours.

They can increasingly make the world work for them, manipulating objects and negotiating the environment with purpose and focus - in the ways they intend.

They are able to persist through physical challenges and show the determination to acquire new skills and abilities. They have a growing ability to balance highly physical activity with rest and quieter body activity.

They readily use movement as a way to explore and process a wide range of emotions, including times when those emotions are intense.

They use information gained through the languages of the body - sensation, feeling and movement - to build their sense of self, to work out how the world works, to solve problems and to communicate and express their experience.

So to the Early Learning Goals themselves:

These raise more questions that answers … lots to think about. But the start of some goals that aim at an embodied approach to learning.


Children at the expected level of development will:

  • demonstrate growing body awareness

  • feel safe, confident, comfortable and adaptable in their body - on the move and at times of stillness

  • recognise and act on a range of sensations from the inside of their body

  • protect their own, and others, bodies

  • experience delight in being a body and a physical connection to the world they live in


Children at the expected level of development will:

  • demonstrate increasing levels of connection, organisation, ease and flow in their movement

  • move with control in a wide range of physical actions and practical tasks - big and small, whole-bodied, and using isolated body parts

  • set and meet their own physical challenges and create support, where needed, to achieve them

Body intelligence

Children at the expected level of development will:

  • readily use movement play as a strategy for deepening their knowledge and understanding

  • take pleasure in sharing a range of discoveries they make through physical play - through movement, in vocal and verbal responses and in visual representations

  • use body language and verbal language together as they communicate with others

And, easy to forget ...

Children at the expected level of development will:

  • move to boost their feeling of wellbeing; sometimes for the sheer joy of this moment of being alive

We’d love to hear of your thoughts about all of this — we are constantly debating with ourselves and we’d love to widen this out. So do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you ….