Analyse how theoretical perspectives in relation to physical development inform current frameworks

Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 3.11: Promote the physical development of children
Learning outcome: Understand theory and current frameworks in relation to children’s physical development
Assessment criteria: Analyse how theoretical perspectives in relation to physical development inform current frameworks


Physical development is a major part of child growth and learning. Different theoretical perspectives inform current frameworks, such as the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). It’s important to understand how these perspectives shape our understanding of physical development so that we can better support children as they grow. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main theories, including psychoanalytic, behaviorist, cognitive-developmental, and postmodern.

Psychoanalytic Theory

One of the most popular theories pertaining to physical development is psychoanalytic theory. This theory emphasizes the importance of early childhood experiences in shaping an individual’s personality. According to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic approach, physical development occurs within a social context, and emotional experiences are just as important as physical ones in guiding children’s development. For example, Freud believed that feelings such as aggression or frustration could manifest themselves physically during childhood. Psychoanalytic theory is often used in EYFS practice to guide practitioners in their understanding of how to best support young children’s emotional needs.


Behaviorist Theory

Behaviorist theory focuses on how external factors influence behavior and how individuals learn through rewards and punishments. Behaviorist approaches view physical development from an environmental perspective by emphasizing the importance of reinforcement for desired behaviors. In other words, behaviorists believe that positive reinforcement—such as praise or rewards—can help encourage desired behaviors while negative reinforcement—such as punishments or reprimands—can discourage unwanted behaviors. For example, a practitioner might use reward systems such as stickers or verbal praise to reward children for completing tasks like dressing themselves or brushing their teeth.

Cognitive-Developmental Theory

Cognitive-developmental theory is based on the belief that individuals acquire knowledge through experience and interaction with their environment. Cognitive-developmental theorists focus on how children learn through play and exploration rather than external stimuli or reinforcement. This means that cognitive-developmental theorists believe that physical activities should provide meaningful learning opportunities for young children rather than be used solely for discipline purposes (e.g., running laps). For example, an EYFS practitioner might set up obstacle courses or other active play activities to encourage problem solving skills and motor skills among children in their care.


Postmodern Theory

Finally, postmodern theory places emphasis on individual identity formation rather than general developmental stages experienced by all children. Postmodern theorists believe that individuals create meaning through their own unique interpretation and understanding of their environment rather than following predetermined paths laid out by others (e.g., parents or teachers). Therefore, according to postmodern theorists, it is important for practitioners to be mindful of each individual child’s needs when designing activities related to physical development so that they can maximize learning potential while respecting each child’s unique identity formation process.


In conclusion, there are several theoretical perspectives on physical development which inform current frameworks like the EYFS – psychoanalytic theory; behaviorist theory; cognitive-developmental theory; and postmodern theory – each offering insights into how best to support child growth and learning during this period of life.. By understanding these various theories we can gain valuable insight into how best to nurture young minds so they can reach their fullest potential both mentally and physically!

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