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Creating enabling environments to promote the physical development of babies and young children is the main focus in the first of a three-part series by Clare Crowther. Photographs by Paul Box at Norland nursery, Bath

Resources originally designed to support special educational needs can be beneficial for all young children, says Anne O'Connor.

The benefits of providing risky activities to children and keeping their parents on board are explained by Sylvie Gambell and Ben Hasan.

Enclosed spaces can foster friendship and heighten young children's concentration and involvement in their play, says Annette Rawstrone.

Children progress by facing challenges, and good practitioners have a sense of when to step in and when to hold back. Jennie Lindon advises.

Settings need to reflect personal, social and emotional development in the fabric of their environment.

The whole learning environment in which young children spend their time needs to offer quality language provision, says Helen Moylett.

Just what do practitioners enable when they provide the environments that attract children to play? Natalie Canning analyses crucial elements.

Babies, toddlers and two-year-olds and the outdoors are a natural combination, with endless benefits for learning and development. Jan White explains where to find them.

Early years settings' work with families can take a new dimension when everybody gets outdoors together, says Annie Davy, early years advisor at Learning through Landscapes.