PHYSICAL LITERACY

Physical Literacy can be described as the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities. Physically literate individuals are able to demonstrate a variety of movements confidently, competently, creatively and strategically across a wide range of health-related physical activities. These skills enable individuals to make healthy active choices throughout their life span that are both beneficial to and respectful of themselves, others and their environment.

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Physically Active and Aerobically Fit Children consistently outperform their inactive and unfit peers academically on both a short and a long-term basis. Research tells us that physically active students are not only healthier and happier, but also learn better. Time spent engaged in physical activity is related not only to a healthier body, but also to enriched cognitive development and lifelong brain health. Regular physical activity can have a positive impact on a students physical, mental and social well-being. In particular physical activity is likely to have an impact on students’ achievement, readiness to learn, behaviour and self-esteem. Positive experiences with physical activity at a young age can help lay the foundation for a healthy productive life.

The Primary School Period (ages 4-12) is seen as a critical point in the development of physical literacy. The intellectual, social and physical development of children are all intertwined. Margaret Whitehead who coined the term Physical Literacy says we shouldn’t be trying to make star athletes. Rather we should mark the progress of our children’s physical journeys. That way all children have the chance to lead a fully embodied life no matter their abilities or physique, whether they like sports or to be outside. Children need more time to practice socially interacting with each other. This skill is hard to role-play and teach inside the classroom and something that is needed more and more in this time of lock downs and increased electronics usage.

The Adolescent School Period (ages 13-18). Physical Literacy in Canada has focused on teaching fundamental movement skills to primary school children, but there has been little discussion about developing physical literacy among adolescents. It is said that 70% of students drop out of organized sports by the time they reach high school because "it’s just not fun anymore". Adolescents transitioning into adulthood need specific skills and knowledge to navigate a society that doesn't support physical activity or healthy eating. Evidence suggests that most students leave high school with little knowledge of health-related fitness concepts, few self-management skills for leading a physically active life and in many cases negative attitudes toward physical education. Developing physical literacy among adolescents requires a shift in focus towards specific knowledge skills and attitudes that support healthy active living.