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Physical Literacy is More than Reading and Writing

September 26, 2014 by HealthyFamilies BC

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I love being physically active; running, playing sports, going for bike rides, and playing with my kids. I also have a pretty good understanding of what the word ‘literacy’ means; having the ability to understand, interpret, create, communicate, and use printed and written materials. How are these two things related, you ask?!

Last week I was invited to hear Dr. Dean Kriellaars speak about physical literacy. Truthfully, I thought he would speak on reading and writing about physical activity, so I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that physical literacy is actually the ability to understand and apply different kinds of movements. Ironically, physical literacy actually starts before most children can read or write.

Physical literacy is about teaching children how to perform basic body movements properly. Think about it like this…If your child is taught how to properly kick, throw, catch, run, jump, and swim not only will they feel more comfortable the next time the opportunity to be physically active arises, they may even initiate it. It is important to note that physical literacy has many benefits that extend far beyond the sports field. According to Physical and Health Education (PHE) Canada, physical literacy can:

    • Reduce the risk of getting a sport or activity related injury
    • Increase the likelihood your child will use their leisure time to take part in physical activity
    • Help your child confidently and creatively move through a variety of activities and sports 

What steps can you take?

  • Be sure your child has access to physical education at school and/or enroll your child in community recreation programs. Choose programs where your child will learn a range of skills. But most importantly, go with activities they enjoy!
  • Make physical activity a part of your child’s daily routine. Here are ways to promote and encourage the movement needed for healthy development.
  • Learn more about physical literacy from qualified exercise professionals at the Physical Activity Line (1-877-725-1149)

Who doesn’t love to see kids running through the field kicking a soccer ball or jumping around a playground at the local park? I can’t give my kids everything they want, but teaching them physical literacy gives them something they need – fundamental movement skills that gives them the confidence and competence to enjoy being active for life.

Blogger Bio: Toby Green is the Manager for Physical Activity with the Population and Public Health Division at the Ministry of Health. Since 2007, Toby has worked at increasing collaboration with partners to increase physical activity programming and awareness in BC focusing on healthy living and chronic disease prevention.

Recommended Resources:

Canadian Sport for Life: Physical Literacy
Physical & Health Education Canada: Physical Literacy
Physical Activity Tips for Children

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