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What is Physical Literacy in the Early Years?
From 0-6 years, boys and girls need to be engaged in daily active play. Through play and movement, they develop the fundamental movement skills and learn how to link them together. At this stage developmentally appropriate activities will help participants feel competent and comfortable participating in a variety of fun and challenging activities and games. This is a crucial time in a child’s life to begin to normalize and embed an active routine into their everyday life.
Early childhood educators have become increasingly aware that movement plays an important role in the healthy development of a young child.
During movement activities children use multiple sensory modalities, thus creating neural connections across numerous pathways in the brain (Council of Physical Education for Children, 2000).
Physical Literacy, as defined by Margaret Whitehead, is:
- The ability and motivation to learn, practice and participate in a range of physical activities for the health and wellness benefits
- All human beings have the ability to participate in physical activities however, its specific expression will be particular to the culture in which we live and the movement capacities with which we are endowed.
- An individual who is physically literate moves with poise, economy, and confidence in a wide variety of physically challenging situations.
- The individual is able to ‘read’ all aspects of the physical environment and anticipate movements needed and respond appropriately, with intelligence and imagination.
- A physically literate individual has a well-established sense of self as embodied in the world which promotes positive self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Sensitivity to and awareness of our physical abilities leads to fluent self-expression through non-verbal communication and leads to perceptive and empathetic interaction with others.
- In addition, the individual has the ability to identify and articulate the effectiveness of his/her own movement performance, and has an understanding of the principles of embodied health, with respect to basic aspects such as exercise, sleep, and nutrition.
Resources on Physical Literacy for Early Year Educators
- Developing Physical Literacy in children and youth ages 0-12 – resource
- Aboriginal Sport for Life – resource
- Long Term Athlete Development For Athletes with a Disability -resource
- Inclusive Physical Literacy – website
- Appetite to Play- website
- Physical Literacy Infographic- poster
- Physical Literacy Throughout the Life Course – book
- Early Year Physical Literacy- website
- Infant and Child Heath Lab -website
- Active Start- Sport for Life- website
- Let’s Play-website
- Early Brain Development- website
- Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence- website
- Early Childhood Centres- Making physical literacy the norm- article
- Free posters, bookmarks, postcards promoting physical literacy – printable
- Fit Healthy Kids- website
- Actively Engaging Women and Girls- resources
- Physical Literacy Case Book- resource
- Introduction to Physical Literacy- YouTube video
- Physical Literacy for Communities- powerpoint slides
What does physical literacy look like in the Early Year Education environment?
- Physical activity should be a fun part of a child’s life every day and is essential for healthy child development.
- Active play is key at this stage as it builds important connections within the brain, and between the brain and children’s muscles.
- Opportunities for exploration of risk and limits in safe environments.
- Unstructured access to a wide variety of colourful toys and equipment.
- Activities should help children feel competent and comfortable participating in a variety of fun and challenging activities and non-competitive games.
- For children with a disability, access to age and disability-appropriate adapted equipment is an important contributor to success been physically active.
- Daily physical activity with an emphasis on fun.
Resources on games to play for Early Year Educators
- Maximum Engagement in Games and Activities (MEGA) Document
- Appetite to Play- website
- Good for Kids- website
- Hop, Skip, Jump – games resource
- PLayTubs Flipbook- games resource
- Assessment of Quality Physical Literacy- resource
- Multi-Cultural Community Activities- games resource
- ActiveOutdoorPlay- articles
- Play to Learn- webinar
- Activities to Play in All Seasons- website
- Optimal Challenge- poster
- Run, Jump Throw -games resource
- Risky Play- website
- Value of Outdoor Education and Healthy Child Development- games resource
- Outside Play- website
- Physical Literacy Lesson Plan Grades K-3- resource
- Balls (all shapes, sizes, textures)
- Pool Noodles (cut into pieces or kept long)
- Hula Hoops
- Skipping Rope
- Painter Tape
FUNdamental Movement Skills
The development of fundamental movement skills is the basic building block for the overall development of physical literacy. Much like learning the alphabet and phonics are the fundamental skills needed to eventually read Shakespeare, or identifying numbers and learning to add and subtract are the fundamental skills needed to eventually balance a cheque-book, the development of fundamental motor skills is critical if children are to apply these skills within and/or across a number of sporting activities.
Important FUNdamental Movement Skills:
Resources to further your learning on FUNdamental Movement Skills
- What are FUNdmanetal Movement Skills? -website
- Ball Skills- poster
- Locomotor Skills- poster
- Run Jump Throw Wheel- poster
- My Skills- poster
- Hop-Skip-and-Jump – resource
- Run, Jump Throw – resource
- Maximum Engagement in Games and Activities (MEGA) -document
- Developing Multi-Sport Skills- Youtube video
- The connection between Physical Literacy and FUNdamental Movement Skills- Youtube Video
- Help your infant (0-12 months) develop movement skills- article