The National Post recently published an article on physical literacy. The story is a comprehensive piece that quotes a number of experts such as Carl Honoré and Dr. Dean, as well as parents, including our own Sara Smeaton.
You must have a lot to think about after reading such an in-depth article. So, as we like to do here at Active for Life, we’ve simplified things. We’d like to remind you of some key elements of physical literacy that we believe really matter to parents, but were not included in the National Post article.
1. Physical literacy is simple
The term “physical literacy” may sound intimidating, but it is actually a simple concept.
Physical literacy is merely about developing the fundamental movement skills that all children need. These movement skills in turn give kids the confidence to participate in different physical activities, sports, and games.
In the same way a child learns to speak by interacting with her parents from an early age, the same is true of learning to move with confidence.
It doesn’t require special equipment or training, just a bit of knowledge and the simple and natural desire to give your kid the right building blocks from the start.
2. Physical literacy is fun (and not more work for parents)
My wife and I have always wanted to help our two children develop their physical literacy. And we did not have to do anything more than what most parents want to do anyway: spend a bit of time with our children doing activities they enjoy .
We especially enjoyed being there as our kids celebrated everyday milestones like zipping across the monkey bars, throwing a Frisbee clear across a field, or kicking a ball over a fence.
Now that they are 10 and 12, our reward has been witnessing our kids grow their movement skills, their confidence, and their love of being active. The bonus is that we don’t need to send them outside to play; they go on their own.
And by the way, they are also pretty good at playing video games. But that’s not the only thing they do.
3. Physical literacy is essential in today’s world
Many parents lament that kids today don’t play outside like they used to when they were young.
But the reality is that kids today are exactly like we were. They do the things they learned to do when they were young. They do the things they are good at.
The difference is that we became experts at outsides games like “kick the can”, “cops and robbers”, and “scrub baseball”, while kids today tend to become masters of Internet tools like Facebook and video games such as Minecraft.
Physical literacy is essential today because the outdoor games and activities that filled our childhood and helped us develop movement skills have been replaced by games and activities that may develop other cognitive skills, but with a dangerous side-effect: unhealthy sedentary habits.
4. Physical literacy makes play better for kids
Activities and games are to physical literacy what nursery rhymes are to language: a fun and simple way for your child to develop skills they need.
Children will always play given the opportunity, but children who are physically literate will be more confident and will have more fun playing because they know how to run, jump, throw, and all the rest.
Unstructured play remains critically important in the whole process of developing physical literacy, because it gives kids a chance to enjoy and practice all of the movement skills they’ve learned.
What does physical literacy mean to you?
Physical literacy is an emerging concept that matters to parents because it matters so much to kids today. So we’re excited that it was shared with Canadian parents in a national newspaper.
We invite you to read Sarah Boesveld’s article and share your thoughts on physical literacy with thousands of parents just like you.