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Foundation Stage PE explained

Mum walking with children in woods
Want to know what your child will learn in PE when they start school? Here’s all you need to know, plus tips for supporting their learning at home.

At this stage, the aim of PE is to improve skills of coordination, control, manipulation and movement, much of it taking place through free or lightly structured activity. So a child may dance while listening to a story, music CD or action rhyme.

Your child will develop large motor skills through jumping, hopping, skipping, climbing and running, and also through playing with pedal and push-and-pull toys. Your child will participate freely in these kinds of activities both indoors and outdoors.

Fine motor skills may be acquired by filling a container with sand, doing a puzzle or stringing beads. Your child needs these skills to do up buttons or laces and to hold a pen or pencil to write correctly. Children who practise and succeed in filling containers in the water tray will handle drinks more successfully and have the confidence to, for example, pour out their own drinks.

There are some language objectives in PE lessons, too. The teacher may introduce words for negotiation and co-operation, such as ‘share’, ‘wait’, ‘take turns’, ‘before‘ and  ‘after’.

Lesson examples

Here are some examples of what teachers have covered in PE classes:

  • The children carry out the actions of the story Going on a bear hunt. They interpret different ways of moving, carefully avoiding bumping into each other.
  • The class pretend to be planes. They put their arms out while moving around the room making engine noises. After several minutes they lie down on the floor to mimic a plane landing.
  • Using an obstacle course created by the teacher, the children follow one another to swing along the overhead ladder hand over hand, crawl through the tunnel, hop along the bench and roll sideways across the mat.

Help your child at home

Employ these tactics at home to add to your child’s school learning:

  • Walk to nursery or school, and go for walks in the park.
  • Encourage active and rough and tumble play in the garden, indoors or at adventure parks.
  • Teach your child to ride a bike and to balance on a scooter.
  • Aim for at least an hour of moderate activity every day. Plus encourage activities that enhance and maintain muscular strength, flexibility and bone health twice a week, such as climbing, skipping, jumping or gymnastics.
  • Encourage your child to eat their five a day in a variety of fruits, vegetables and colours.
  • Talk to your child about the importance of eating healthily and keeping active.
  • Check out Artie's Olympics, a fun activity-based scheme for nursery-age children that also raises vital funds for the BHF.


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