The First Five Years - Physical Activity in Early Childhood


Pete Sturgess, lead tutor of our Physical Activity in Early Childhood MA Pathway, looks at why positive early childhood experiences of physical activity, sport and exercise are so important.

The First Five Years

Adults who are involved in early years’ provision can significantly influence the attitudes and dispositions of the young, developing children in their care—attitudes and dispositions that will likely stay with those children for the remainder of their lives! 

The saying, ‘the first five years have so much to do with how the next eighty turn out’ is an interesting one for a number of reasons.

The brain of an infant has the largest area of uncommitted cortex of any species on earth. This in itself would indicate that the types of experiences that a child has when very young, begin to influence the constant connecting and pruning that is naturally taking place.

Activities that promote exploration, experimentation and play provide significant opportunities to further enhance this development.

In order to build a lifelong love of keeping fit and healthy, those early experiences should also provide a positive emotional connection with physical activity and sport.

To do this we need an early years workforce that understands the link between exercise, development and cognition so that they can provide a vibrant, supportive and challenging environment through which young children can enjoy being active!

The new Physical Activity in Early Childhood module, developed and delivered by CREC in conjunction with the Football Association, has been designed to provide support for those professionals who can influence and shape the provision of high-quality programmes for children.

It focuses on creating positive experiences through sport and physical activity, highlighting the importance of play and creativity, whilst emphasising developing practice through critical reflection.


A bit more about Pete

Pete Sturgess is the National Foundation Phase lead for the Football Association.

He is a qualified teacher who has worked across the game of football at both professional and grassroots levels.

Pete is a FIFA instructor for Futsal and for the past 20 years has worked with coaches, parents and volunteers championing the rights of our youngest participants to high-quality sporting experiences.


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