Girl running

How to assess your child’s physical literacy

Does your child have physical literacy? Should you care? If you want your child to have the best opportunities in life, then yes.

What is physical literacy? Simply put it’s a collection of basic movement and sport skills such as running, jumping, skipping, catching, throwing and kicking. The earlier children correctly learn these skills, the more “fluent” and confident they will be in physical activity. That confidence affects every part of their lives, from academic to social. With physical literacy, they’ll have more fun in a diversity of sports and they’ll be more likely to be active for the rest of their lives.

Physical literacy doesn’t just happen on its own. It’s a “vocabulary” of movement that has to be learned.

To learn this “physical” vocabulary, children need to start in early childhood, before they even start learning their ABCs and 123s. And as basic math leads eventually to algebra, and command of the alphabet leads eventually to writing essays and stories, basic movement skills eventually grow into more refined sport and physical activity skills.

A tool you can use

Active for Life has created the Skills Builder web tool so you can check how physically literate your child is. At a glance, the Skills Builder tells you what movement skills and sport skills children need to be learning each year of their development.

Why is this important? Because physical literacy gives your child the best chance for lifelong health and success in every part of life.

Without physical literacy, children are much more likely to be physically inactive. This can lead to lower school grades, reduced confidence, lower self-esteem, poor social skills and significant health problems.

“Yeah, yeah, I know”

We’ve all heard these things before, so it’s easy to gloss over it and say, “Yeah, yeah, I know.” But we need to act on it as parents. To realize their full potential, our children need to be physically literate.

And physical literacy isn’t something just for jocks. These are skills that are essential for all kids. If you want your child to be active, healthy and successful, physical literacy will provide the foundation for all of it. For example, check out what Yahoo’s ex-CEO Jeff Mallett says about children’s physical activity and success.

“But I’m not a sporty parent”

If you’re not a “sporty” parent, don’t worry. You don’t have to be a great athlete to make sure your child is learning the basic skills. Start by checking out the Skills Builder tool. Active for Life developed this interactive online tool to show parents what skills their children should be learning at every age. When you are finished with the Skills Builder, check out some of our recommended activities to get your child learning fundamental skills.

The language of movement

Physical literacy is like learning a second language. The older you are when you learn, the more difficult it is and the less confident you are using your second language. Anyone who has learned French or another language from a book can relate to this. Just think how uncomfortable you are speaking that second language in public. The key is to make sure kids develop physical literacy when they are young, otherwise they may feel awkward for the rest of their lives and close the door on any sort of physical activity.

3 responses to “How to assess your child’s physical literacy

  1. Ettt…. I have only heard this , ” that a child has a “window of opportunity to impact their future potential as a teenager and adult in sport that has exists before they r 10-12 years of age”.
    That if they are indeed active in various activities before that age that their potential has a more physically mature athlete is greater.
    Is this true ?

    1. Hi Randall,
      I think you are asking whether or not children who play a variety of sports and physical activities before their growth spurt (i.e. their teens) are better athletes later in life. Based on the available evidence, the answer is “yes.” We have a number of stories at Active for Life that talk about the benefits of being a “multi sport” athlete. This story from John O’Sullivan provides a good overview:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *