If you work in early childhood education, you may have caught some of the buzz around physical literacy. Grade school curricula in many provinces are starting to include guidelines to support physical literacy, and some early years centres are starting to get on board. This is great news as the preschool years are a critical time to get kids moving.
Still, it makes some early years educators nervous. There can be challenges with implementing physical literacy in early years settings, and some workers are unsure about their own ability to lead physical activities for children. Everyone can take comfort: there are growing resources available that make it easy to introduce physical literacy programming and get yourself up to speed on how to lead a program.
You don’t need to be a PE teacher or “sporty”
First, you don’t need to be a physical education specialist or a mega-athlete to introduce fundamental movement skills (FMS) to preschool children. Perhaps you don’t have a lot of experience in physical activity, but this doesn’t need to prevent you from leading small children in basic games and activities.
When it comes to implementing a physical literacy curriculum at this early age, the main requirement is being able to set up an activity, not perform it. If you can read instructions and set up basic activities such as finger painting, you can just as easily organize basic physical activities and games for preschool children.
Free curriculum resources at your fingertips
There are plenty of free curriculum resources online to get you started in building your early years physical literacy program. One of your best first stops is the early years physical literacy website at Mount Royal University.
MRU has spent several years carefully developing, testing, and improving their physical literacy activity resources, program planning materials, and educator workshops. You can access all their resources for free online. For example, the Hop, Skip and a Jump resource booklet is full of active games for developing FMS at the preschool stage. Meanwhile, the Early Years Physical Literacy Planning Manual [PDF] helps you to cover all the essentials as you map out your program from week to week.
Active for Life is also an important source for free early years physical literacy resources. Our lesson plans and lesson plan modules for ages 3 to 5 years are intended for educators who are working with groups of children in early years centres. Our activities for ages 0 to 3 years are primarily intended for parents with one or two infants or toddlers, though they could also be useful to professional caregivers and educators in work settings.
Further resources to expand your knowledge
If you find that you want more ideas for games and activities, the Fundamental Movement Skills Game Cards [PDF] from Australia offer almost 50 pages of locomotor and manipulative skills games for preschool settings.
Similarly, the HOP resource manual from LEAP BC provides almost 100 pages of fun games and activities to develop movement skills in the early years.
The Fit Kids Healthy Kids website from Sport Manitoba also has a number of games and activities that are suitable for ages 2 to 3 years and 4 to 6 years, but you need to filter them using the online search feature. Simply select the age range desired in the left column on the website and then click “filter results.”
Once you have a good variety of activities and games in hand, and you have mapped out a program schedule for your centre, you are ready to “jump in.” There is no need to be intimidated by the prospect of leading preschool children in physical activity. After all, if four-year-olds can do it, you can be confident that you can, too.