This chapter complements the chapter ‘Human movement and motor skills’ (Williams, 2014) published in the first edition of this text. As the title suggests, the purpose is to extend Williams’ work by investigating examples of practical human movement development embedded within the field of Physical Education (PE). Thus, the chapter answers the questions of: What does human movement theory look like in practice? How can it be optimised for all children? Why is it vital for the advancement of ‘health and wellbeing in childhood’?
The physical dimension is significant within children's learning because it offers powerful and meaningful connections across all learning and development areas. The socio-cultural perspective suggests that the curriculum be connected to the child's world and everyday interests (Arthur et al., 2015). As children have a natural play structure, learning through movement heightens interest. ‘Play’ sits within the physical dimension – ‘where children are learning through their interactions, as well as adopting and working through the rules and values of their own cultural group’ (pp. 99– 100). The socio-cultural benefits of play enable ‘the development of imagination and intelligence, language, social skills, and perceptual-motor abilities in infants and young children’ (Frost, 1992, p. 48).
Hence, this chapter adopts the same goal as Williams’ chapter: ‘to highlight the importance of early childhood educators integrating bio-physical and sociocultural understandings’ (2014, p. 62). This is an important goal affirmed by Callcott, Miller & Wilson-Gahan: ‘It is now evident that practice and encouragement as well as correct and quality instruction are necessary for children to become proficient in fundamental movement skills’ (2015, p. 32).
To enable a deeper understanding of the advancement of ‘health and wellbeing in childhood’ through ‘belonging, being and becoming’ physically educated, two major underpinning themes are investigated – approaching quality physical education, and human movement and motor skills in childhood.
Approaching Quality Physical Education
Health and Wellbeing
Implementing quality physical education increases the likelihood of children experiencing positive health and wellbeing outcomes. One popular and simple definition of wellbeing is ‘a state of feeling good about ourselves and the way our lives are going’ (Commonwealth of Australia, 2014a, p. 1). Research provides evidence that regular physical activity promotes mental and social wellbeing (Commonwealth of Australia, 2014a; Lynch, 2015a; Parkinson, 2015; Public Health England, 2015; Richards, 2016; Salmon et al., 2011).