Tagged in: Coaching Development, Physical and Health Education

PE lesson 1: Physical Literacy is Not Physical Activity.

Discover the multi-faceted elements of physical literacy

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to be on the Board of Directors for Physical and Health Education Canada. Representing my home province of Nova Scotia was a role I took very seriously while I served as a tenure track professor of physical education at St. Francis Xavier University.

During my time on the Board of PHE Canada, we had a name change (sound familiar US colleagues?). CAHPERD became Physical and Health Education Canada. As well, the BOD’s amazing Ontario representative at the time, Dr. Jamie Mandigo, approached the Board and suggested we adopt a definition of the term physical literacy. Dr. Mandigo and his colleagues (Dr. Nancy Francis, Dr. Ken Lodewyk, and Dr. Ron Lopez) at Brock University developed the following definition of physical literacy after speaking to Dr. Margaret Whitehead at length in addition to studying her work. Obviously, the vote was unanimous and the definition of physical literacy put forth was adopted by PHE Canada. It was an exciting time for physical education in Canada!

Physical Literacy Definition
Physical and Health Education Canada defines Physical literacy as:

Individuals who are physically literate move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.

  • Physically literate individuals consistently develop the motivation and ability to understand, communicate, apply, and analyze different forms of movement.
  • They 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 that are both beneficial to and respectful of their whole self, others, and their environment.

Canada Sport for Life defines physical literacy a bit differently.
Physical literacy is the mastering of fundamental movement skills and fundamental sport skills that permit a child to read their environment and make appropriate decisions, allowing them to move confidently and with control in a wide range of physical activity situations. It supports long-term participation and performance to the best of one’s ability.

Physical literacy is the cornerstone of both participation and excellence in physical activity and sport. Ideally, physical literacy is developed prior to the adolescent growth spurt. It has been adopted as the foundation of the Sport for Life concept in Canada.

Competence, confidence, and a wide variety of environments
While the definitions do vary, both agree that the following components are indeed important ones.

  • Competence
  • Confidence
  • Wide variety of environments

So, let’s talk about this, shall we?
I bring these topics up because I often hear folks using the term physical literacy interchangeably with physical activity and physical education. They are not the same. I thought I would focus this blog on one area of the definition to help demonstrate how the terms are different - although, they are each important to each other.

When we develop curriculum or a yearly plan for our PE programs, we must ask ourselves the following questions if we care to have our program in line with the definition of physical literacy.

  1. Am I supporting the development of a physically literate person by helping her/him to develop the competence necessary to choose to perform skills on different surfaces (water, ice, land [inside, outside])?
  2. Am I supporting the development of a physically literate person by helping him/her to develop the confidence to perform skills on different surfaces (water, ice, land [inside, outside])?
  3. Am I supporting the development of a physically literate person by helping her/him make healthy and productive choices with these skills in a variety of settings (fair play, no cheating, no performance enhancing drugs, no disrespect)? [Side note: if looking for a great story to share with students about someone who falls into the ’all that is good with physical literacy’ check out this blog post: Scott Mercier Story]
  4. Am I supporting the development of a physically literate person by helping him/her learn how to fall in a variety of environments, how to navigate in a variety of environments, and how to make decisions in authentic environments?

As Dr. Margaret Whitehead repeated to me last week via Skype (she credited with bringing this term to the masses, by the way), physical literacy is a cradle to grave concept. It’s not just something PE teachers should be interested in. Parents should be interested in it, too. I believe that, as professionals, PE teachers should work hard to inform parents how they can support their child’s growth on the physical literacy journey.

  1. Ask about “registration time lines”. I pulled my three-year-old out of dance this week. Not because it is a bad activity. I LOVE dance. Rather, they wanted me to sign her up from August until the recital in June. That is ten-months of one activity. I pulled her out because it’s winter time. So, we are doing winter activities. My two-year-old comes too and wow...we are having so much fun! They fall a lot. They get back up. They smile and say “I am skating all by myself” although it sounds so much cuter the way they say it. I’m here to tell you, don’t fall victim to thinking your children will get behind if they do multiple activities. To be honest, does it really matter? I’ll re-enroll her in dance again next August. She enjoys it very much! But, switching has been such a wise move. My girls are making new friends at public skate, they are gaining so much confidence while increasing their physical skills, we are enjoying some awesome time on the ice and on the playground outside the rink. Score Score Score. To those who say, why not both? Well, she’s three and she’s already in another activity (gymnastics). I don’t want to schedule so much that we don’t have time for playgrounds, digging in dirt, and going for hikes with our neighbor’s dogs.
  2. Consider different surfaces when planning activities (organized or family activities) and camps (summer, spring break). There are lots of day camps available or activities to sign your child up for. When planning consider different surfaces and the types of activities that they include:
  • Water - swim lessons, swim team, diving, surfing, water polo
  • Ice - skating lessons, skating with family/friends, hockey, sledge hockey, curling
  • Snow - cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, downhill skiing
  • Land (inside and outside!) - basketball, volleyball, wrestling, gymnastics, biking, hiking, running, walking
  1. Just as you should introduce different healthy foods to your child often, you should introduce them to different types of physical activity. This will allow them to gain the confidence in the different areas. Full disclosure, my kids will ask for a TV show when I want to go outside and play. They also don’t like wearing a seat belt. And, not unlike most adults who don’t always feel like going for a run initially, everyone is much happier after doing physical activity. In other words - if they don’t want to try a new activity initially, they end up enjoying themselves. Here are a few things we’ve been up to lately (all pics taken in the past 30 days).

SSkating

SRunning

Playground

KSkating

Gymanstics

Climbing

Where is the technology in these images?

While I think it’s awesome that so many are doing a great job of integrating technology in PE, I must say my favorite part of skating and hiking with my family, and triathlon/endurance event training is the lack of technology involved. It allows me to be with nature, and not just in nature. I heard a great talk by Dr. Nic Forsberg and Dr. Shannon Funk while at PHE Canada national conference this fall. They spoke about Richard Louve’s work related to nature deficit disorder. While not a scientific term, the work is pretty tough to argue with. If we don’t interact and learn about the environment, how are we doing to care enough to take care of it? So, I get that technology is important to learning. I get that it helps student engagement. I totally agree it has its place. I also feel that there is a time and place to shut it off. To unplug. To communicate in person rather than through twitter.

What if my child is 100% happy in one sport year round?

A happy active child is not something I advocate messing with. You know your child. If this is indeed the case (and, you are not just talking yourself into believing it is the case), be proud of how happy your child is and the opportunities that are presented. I know a lot of teens who are doing a sport year round and look forward to it all the time. I do suggest finding ways to help them develop other muscles to avoid injury related to overuse. However, don’t read this and feel I am judging decisions that are working really well with your family if they differ from some of the suggestions I present (I hate when people do that). The aim of this post is to address a few pieces of this term to help folks better understand it.

Sport coaches

Work with your athletes and their parents so they don’t feel they have to choose between participating in your sport and another if there is room for both. I recall my coaching experience at the Collegiate School in Richmond, VA back in the early 2000’s. My awesome colleague, Bill Rider, welcomed a star field hockey player to play for our school soccer team even though we knew she would miss time due to her field hockey commitments. Well, Jamie Whitten Montgomery is now a member of the US Field Hockey team. We enjoyed coaching her very much. She was a very positive leader and solid defender who contributed in any way we asked. The team welcomed Jamie - she was a positive and supportive member of our team - and realized she was working toward a major goal on the days she wasn’t at our practices. Yet, Coach Rider didn’t expect her to go to both (he was a firm believer that avoiding burnout and injury are necessary - smart man).

Cradle to grave

I have heard my amazing colleague Dr. Mandigo, as well as the incredible Dr. Whitehead speak about physical literacy being a journey. Dr. Whitehead reminded me just last week that she refers to it as a journey from cradle to grave. Let’s not get stuck on the now. The reality is, there will always be someone better than your child in a particular sport. The goal might not be to raise an incredible sport specific athlete. Perhaps the goal is to raise a child who is active for life.

The aim of physical education is certainly not to produce the best athletes in a single sport. However, focusing on physical literacy will undoubtedly help kids become more proficient in athletic movement. They will learn how to fall in addition to throwing and catching. Why does this matter? Well, when we know how to fall, we’ll be more likely to descend on a mountain bike (for example) because if we go over the handlebars (endo) as I have been known to do, we end up doing a forward roll and laughing - rather than breaking a bone and crying (although, that can be unavoidable, too). It gives us the competence to know how to respond in an environment that is a little bit different. It forces us to be creative in our movement and to be present in our activity. It gives kids a sense of confidence because of their enhanced skill development.

Physical education and sport curriculum need to be designed with purpose. If physical literacy is to be the foundation, outcomes must support the physical literacy journey. This includes the development of competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activity environments. Yet, physical literacy is certainly not just the acquisition of fundamental movement skills. PE teachers should be mindful of the physical literacy journey when developing yearly plans and parents should be mindful of supporting the journey through unstructured play and organized physical activity choices. I purposefully did not speak about assessing physical literacy in this post - that baby deserves its own space.

In closing, in case you are wondering why we should care? It’s about health prevention. Do you know how much the diet industry and health and wellness coaching professionals are making these days? The vast majority of adults do not feel they have the competence in physical activities. Thus, they are not confident enough to be physically active. While this same age demographic likes to talk about how “awesome things were back in the day”, I personally feel sad that so many in my generation and the one above me failed to fully understand the importance of personal responsibility related to physical activity. Unfortunately, a truly unbalanced portion of respect is given to those who want to solve problems after they occur than those who want to prevent them in the first place. If we all, as PE teachers, coaches and parents, are serious about supporting our students, athletes, and children’s journey in physical literacy, we will pay close to attention to confidence and competence in a wide variety of environments. We will put our students, athletes, and children in situations where they learn how to fall - and, get back up, while being physically active.

How about you and/or your school?
Does your program aid students’ development in their journey?

What might you change to make physical literacy more of a focus in your PE programs?

 

  • Vincent Ong

    Great article, Amanda. I totally agree with what you’ve shared. I think there needs to be greater awareness of the importance of “physical” literacy in the development of a child to be ready to survive and lead a purposeful and healthy life. If we want to address the global trend of increasing obesity and physical inactivity, we need to ensure that physical literacy is taken seriously.Like you, I too see the merits of developing our kids to be physically literate and exposed them to participate in many different sports and physical environment. I like to share with you this video I compiled of my youngest son, Anders: http://youtu.be/BxkJTwQg95kI am very keen to spread the word about the importance of developing physical literacy in education and as a precursor to a healthy and sporty lifestyle.

  • Josie P.

    I think this blog draws attention to areas that really needed it. It was eloquently written and very direct about what needed to be said. I appreciate that. One part that really spiked my interest was the section about having children in a various number of different activities to develop a vast array of skills. This is something that really goes against what we see now days in my opinion. Parents are paying large amounts of money for their child to play the same sport year round. Travel teams and private lessons are becoming the new way to get ahead in your specific sport. I think your idea of how this kids are only going to be physically literate in that area, surface and game really makes sense when we look at the skills that they are not acquiring because they are not needed in that sport or activity.

    On the flip side of that argument, if I can play devil’s advocate for a minute, is a whole other side. If we rotate children from sport to sport, I foresee it becoming a problem of never becoming confident in an activity. One of the key parts of the physical literacy definition was that the person would be confident in their skills. Each activity takes time to be learned. The first time a swung a golf club it felt like the strangest and most unnatural thing I had ever done. If I had not dedicated ample amounts of continuous time to this activity I would have never reached the point of becoming confident in that skill. I spent months upon months golfing on the school team and finally became competitive and confident at the game. Still today, those skills would return quickly, but not instantly since I have been out of practice.

    Overall, I think the point that I have analyzed is somewhat of a double edged sword. Exposing children to multiple activities and rotating amongst those activities would give them a wider range of physical activities to become exposed to. However, it would also maybe keep them from ever become skilled and confident in any activity. Either way, I really enjoyed your write up and the angles that you looked at and shined light on.

  • Erin Curtis

    I never hear of or considered the idea of physical literacy. After reading the article, I still struggle to see how it differs from physical education. Possibly, it is a subsection in the large realm of physical education. I find four very important parts of physical literacy: familiarity to being active on multiple surfaces, how to fall and get back up while trying something new, feeling confident, and feeling competent. Fulfilling all of these are difficult at a school setting, so it is important for parents and physical education teachers to get involved. A parent can expose their children to a variety of activities on different surfaces at an early age. It is important to show children these wide variety of activities. Even if they find one activity they are passionate about, it would still be beneficial to experience new activities occasionally for leisure. Parents and teachers can demonstrate and teach how to take failure and get back up to retry the activity. Having an overall attitude that messing up is okay at school and home will then help build the competence and confidence. The physical education teacher has a very big role in building competence and confidence at school. They instruct how to do these activities and can give the students the advice and encouragement for these activities. Once they are given these skills, the physical education teacher will need to be 100% supportive to each student in practicing the skills. The students will need continuous encouragement especially while struggling, then confidence can be instilled in the child. Parents and the physical education teacher need to work together to develop physically literate students.

  • Sara

    I found several things interesting about this article. One point that was intriguing was the fact that although technology is important in keeping students engaged while learning, sometimes it is important to completely shut off all technological uses to avoid nature-deficiency. I also thought the author brought up a few good points when they mentioned how it is important to give your child/students a variety of sports to experience in. A specific reason is so there is no muscle fatigue or burnout in a particular area from playing the same kind of activity or sport all year around.

    To incorporate this into my teachings as a future educator, I would have students play “hockey” when it is winter in the gymnasium with pucks. Although they will not be ice skating on or wearing roller blades to avoid injury when teaching younger students, they will still be using pucks to score goals in the nets. I would also have a rollerblading lesson plans, etc. I would change up the activity often. Some days I will target specific muscle groups such as arms (playing dodge ball), or legs such as capture the flag football. I will make sure there is no muscle fatigue or have too much strain on one particular muscle among my students as an educator.
    As the article states that another reason why it is important to expand our horizon when it comes to different sports is to be familiar with the environment we are in. Citing from the article, “It forces us to be creative in our movement and to be present in our activity. It gives kids a sense of confidence because of their enhanced skill development.” Lastly, I agree with the author that physical literacy should be designed with a purpose in mind. I agree that a vast majority of adults do not feel confident enough to stay physically active. I feel as though if educators (and parents as well) were to introduce different activities to their children, there would be more physically active and healthy people in society. According to statistics, obesity rate has been going up for the past few decades. We can decrease the obesity rate and increase physical exercise among people if we had a purpose in mind while giving children a broad range of various activities to increase their confidence.

  • Kate Sullivan

    As a former athlete myself I found this article to be very interesting and eye-opening. Being “physically literate” has to do with a healthy and active lifestyle in several areas. This article brought up a good point that year-round sports may not be benefiting a person’s overall physical health. In high school I was a two sport athlete and I believe that this has a lot to do with my successes with being a physically active individual today. Injury is also at stake here when talking about being well-rounded. Working the same muscles over and over again puts a person at risk for injuries in muscles that have not been used. We have all seen the person at the gym with small legs and giant arms! These people may be at greater risk for injuries because of their lack of full-body muscle use.

    As an educator there are also a lot of valuable things I learned in this article. First, I learned about the difference between physical activity and physical literacy. The questions in this article can give educators a good idea of if they are preparing a student to be successful in life when it comes to physical literacy. Making sure students feel confident and supporting their overall health is part of physical literacy. Physical activity is more of movement and not necessarily developmentally helpful for students’ lifestyles, although it is still important. Physical activity needs to have a purpose so that students can develop the confidence and competency that they need to live healthy lifestyles and become physically literate. Ways to support physical literacy as an educator are to do a variety of activities; swimming, skating, running, hiking to name a few

  • Alaina K.

    I found this post very thought provoking. Growing up I was a gymnast year round. I played one season of soccer and did dance for one year, but from 4th grade to 8th grade all I did was gymnastics at least three days a week. In high school I ran two seasons of cross country, but sophomore year to senior year I swam. Competitive swim season was October to February, but the other months of the year were spent training in and out of the water. Through swimming I learned a wide variety of exercises in and out of the water, but I still struggle to work out on my own now. Without a coach I struggle to motivate myself or know the best things to do, so I tend to stick to classes at the gym or work out videos.
    My family was always active. We spent time playing outside, going on hikes, or riding bikes. I never thought of that as being physically active though. I associated being physically active with sports or working out. For this reason, I really like the term physical literacy. The components this article uses to define physical literacy are competence, confidence, and a wide variety of environments. The wide variety of environments is very important. It’s not just about dedicating yourself to be excellent at one sport, because most people are not going to go on to be professional athletes. Physical literacy is about being able, or being competent, to do activities in a variety environments. This could mean hopping in the pool to swim a few laps, or it could be riding your bike around the neighborhood safely or climbing the rock wall with proper instruction. I think that confidence is one of the most important components of physical literacy. Even if you know you’re not going to be the best or if you’ve never done something before, you try it anyways because you live a healthy lifestyle that allows you to incorporate a wide variety of activities. Teaching this to young students will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

  • Cathleen Capouch

    As a future parent, I want my child to experience all kinds of physical activities available to them. Physical literacy doesn’t only take place at school. It should take place at home as well. However, I do have to say I disagree with taking the child away from something that they really love. As someone who grew up doing all different kinds of activities and finally finding one that I am still passionate about today, I want my children to have to same opportunity. Finding that one sport or hobby or activity that they love will give them lifelong experiences and lessons that they will carry with them their whole lives. Until they find that one thing, I absolutely agree that they should experience everything they want in all sorts of different ways and places.

  • Caitlyn Walters

    Physical literacy almost seems impossible for a majority of young children. Not only does it involve participation and understanding in a wide variety of sports/physical activities, you need to excel at them. Personally, I do believe that young children should be exposed to a wide variety of sports to widen their interests and future opportunities. However, as children grow older, many of them narrow down their physical interests to one or two sports. Mostly this is because one single sport can consume a lot of one’s time. It is rather difficult for young children to be good at every single sport or activity that they partake in. Yes, many children like to play different sports in different environments, but it is not fair to say that they should be fully competent in a physical activity to enjoy it.

    Although there seems to be downsides to physical literacy, I do believe, as an educator, that it is important. I think all children should get to experience every physical activity out there. However, I do not believe it is necessary for them to be fully competent and excel at them. Being a young child should be about having fun and trying out new things. Physical literacy seems to be a little bit too extreme for most families with children. I think the best solution is to be active with many different sports, but it is not imperative to have to stick with them if you are not interested in them.

  • Heather Combs

    I think it is extremely important to note the difference
    between physical literacy and physical activity. This article does an amazing
    job of sorting out the differences for students, parents, coaches, and PE
    teachers. I learned that physical literacy is having the competence and
    confidence to perform a wide variety of physical activities in a wide variety
    of environments. All of these activities and environments should benefit the
    whole development of a person. This is in contrast to simple physical activity which
    is just movement, regardless of if there is purpose behind it. As future educators,
    parents, and potentially coaches, it is important to note this distinction and
    to take it to heart when planning activities for the children in our lives. The
    premise is that physical literacy is a journey that follows you from cradle to
    grave. Physical literacy is one of the greatest gifts we can give the children
    that are a part of our lives.

  • Jenna Schmidt

    I really enjoyed reading this article. It is extremely important that individuals understand the difference between physical activity and physical literacy. I had always been a year round athlete through high school, and understood there was more to being healthy and physically fit than just working on physical activity. You have to be fully aware of what you eat, drink, and when/which muscles need attention. It is a well rounded process that a lot of people overlook. Some people may focus only on diet, which helps keep weight down, but doesn’t assist is muscle strength and agility. There are also those individuals who only focus on the physical activity aspect of health.

    I have a friend who focused on weight lifting for almost two years. He noticed a difference in the amount of weight that he could lift, his own weight, and the size of his clothing. All three of those things were increasing. He wanted the amount of weight he could life to increase, but didn’t understand why he was still gaining weight that wasn’t muscle. He didn’t understand why he wasn’t toning up. He ended up taking a break from lifting weights and focused on his diet and endurance exercises. Seven months later he was in the best shape of his life and the smallest size he had been since high school. All it took was learning about physical literacy and understanding how to be well rounded with physical fitness and dieting.

    Being physically literate is helpful and useful in all situations. Like my friend, that meant understanding how to diet and exercise equally. For a children, it means to have well rounded activities and not the same things over and over. At the same time, it is important for the children to have a well balanced diet. Physical literacy is not just physical activity. It is understanding how to balance all aspects of health and health education, which includes physical activity, dieting, and differentiating the activities time is spent on.

  • Morgan Hicks

    Physical literacy is something that a lot of people struggle
    with. It is a concept that is very easily confused with physical activity, as
    this article explains quite well. The definitions provided remind me of another
    kind of literacy: language literacy. I think that physical literacy is a lot
    like language, or reading and writing literacy. In order to be reading and writing
    literate, students must first learn to identify letters, then how they are
    used, how they are used together,
    etc. until students can read more and more complex books (and write more
    complex pieces). In order to be physically literate, anyone must first learn to
    ‘identify’ the basics, usually by experience and practice of them. Then people
    learn how these are used. For example, learning how to use “running” or the
    breaststroke. Then how these are used in a race or while swimming, and so on.

    Being physically literate is a lifelong process, just like reading
    and writing literacy. I am still learning new words, and how to use them in
    context. I am also still learning new physical movements in dance, diving, and
    other fun activities. The process has a purpose, which is to better the
    individual. As a future educator, I need to plan the best process to aid in the
    growth of physical literacy as much as language literacy.

  • Annette Madren

    As a future educator, I found this article to be chalk full of important information to introduce to my students, their parents, and my peers. I think that being physically literate in addition to having physical education and being physically active are all important in the everyday lives of children in order to set them up to be successful, healthy adults. The article mentions being competent, having confidence, and being able to do both in a wide variety of environments. In my future classroom, I hope to instill confidence in my students that will inspire them to try new things and build their competence in a wide variety of environments.

    This article made me think back to when I was a child. My parents were and still are very athletic individuals. They were always interested in sports. When I was young, I was not very interested in sports and my parents didn’t enroll me in them either. I never gained the confidence or competence in athletics. I think that it will be very important for future young children to have these opportunities. In addition to sharing knowledge with students, parents, and peers, I also want to create opportunities to be physically active in my classroom so that the students can learn exercises to do inside as well as outside.

  • Annie Bates

    This article opened my eyes to the importance of physical literacy. I think it is extremely beneficial to take part in all different types of sports and physical activities, exactly for the reasons the author addressed. It builds confidence, develops competence, and prepares for a wide variety of environments. Although I focused the majority of my life on soccer and loved it, I now sometimes wish I had other skills I could use like properly shooting a basketball or being able to hit a baseball. I, admittedly, am one of the ones that are scared to go to the gym because I don’t know how to properly use the equipment and don’t want to make a fool of myself. Developing skills like theses earlier in life could be the answer to better health for people because they could feel some confidence in their abilities. It can be especially beneficial when one sport becomes too physically demanding and we can move to other sports, which we could still enjoy but would cause less strain.

    Like the author states, some people find their niche in a particular sport, like I did with soccer. It was what I did year round for a majority of my life and I absolutely loved it. Because I spent so much time on that particular sport, I felt confident and was proud of my skills. I tried baseball when I was younger, I wasn’t good and I hated it. I ran track and did gymnastics for years, was decently good, but still didn’t enjoy it. I would rather spend my time becoming above average in soccer than having to divide up my time and being average at everything. I think the author does an exceptional job of addressing the one sport athlete: if they are happy with that one sport then don’t feel like you need to mess with it. Physical literacy would be an ideal idea for everyone, but if a child is healthy and happy then that is the most important thing, not that they are doing an abundant amount of physical activities in different environments.

  • Allison Wolf

    I firmly believe that it is important for people of all ages to be physically literate. As the author suggested, physical literacy is not just about physical activity, it is also about health prevention. With obesity rates increasing among youth, it is crucial that we expose young people to a variety of experiences with physical literacy. A great way to do this is to enroll children in sports teams and groups. Not only does it teach children essential skills to move confidently and competently, it also exposes them to a diverse group of people from which they can socially interact with and learn from.

    As a child, I was lucky to have parents that did not force me into participating in activities I did not have interest in, but I was also the kind of child that wanted to get involved in any and every sports team that was offered. I eventually understood how time consuming participating in all of these activities can be, but I found my love for soccer and tennis and learned very different skills from playing two very different sports. From my experiences, I believe that it is important for children to be involved in as many of these physical activities as possible so that they can learn these essential skills, but it is also important that they enjoy themselves.

    Physical literacy is a lifelong journey, so it is never too late for someone to try to become more physically literate to live as active and healthy of a lifestyle as they possibly can.

  • Katie Galbreath

    I really enjoyed this article’s definition of physical literacy. It is important to understand what it means to be physically literate because it is important to emphasize multiple activities for your children and students. Many people grow up playing only one sport or physical activity. In older grades this sport becomes the student’s life and they are unable to participate in multiple physical activities. It is expected of the student to participate in this one activity all year in order to become the best the can be in one activity. By emphasizing commitment to only one activity we are putting our kids at a disadvantage. As the article says, most likely, your child or student will never be the absolute best at one sport. So why make them commit to one activity? Why not show them a variety of activities and emphasize physical literacy rather than athleticism in one area. This article was very thought provoking and challenged many of my preconceived ideas about physical literacy.

  • geying zhang

    I do agree with the point that physical literacy is very different from physical activity. I believe that physical literacy is the mastering of fundamental movement skills and fundamental sport skills that permit a child to read their environment and make appropriate decisions, allowing them to move confidently and with control in a wide range of physical activity situations. I think if a child doesn’t get enough early age physical literacy teaching, they will be very lost when they develop in to their future.

    I really believe that exposing the kids to different sports, different small physical activities are very necessary for them to be confidence in not just one area of sports. Because every student is so different and one may be very good at running but one might not. It is our job to introduce as much as physical activities until they find one that they are really interested in. It can help to boost their confidence and encourage them to have faith in themselves.

    I remember when I was in middle school, all we focused about is running, playing basketball, and playing tennis. I didn’t like any of these and since that is the main three sports we do in all the fitness class, I grew to become resentful towards fitness and being active. The main reason that we, as teacher, need to learn about how to teach physical literacy is to make the students take interest in being active so that they can grow stronger and develop their basic physical literacy skills. And when they grew up in their future, we don’t have to teach them every different little sports they will run into, instead they can use what they learnt in their early age, and develop to play by themselves. And I think that is the ultimate goal of teaching physical literacy and help the students to develop being active as a normal part of their lives.

  • Olivia Cain

    I really enjoyed reading this article. It really made it apparent as to what physical literacy actually is.I also found it very important when reading the article that parents should be informed about physical literacy as well. It is important so the parents can get their children involved in physical activities outside of school. I believe that physical activity truly improves the performance of students in the classroom as well as within other parts of their daily lives. When we were growing up, everyone played outside and as time goes on more and more children are inside looking at a technology screen instead. Many of the children do not realize how much the physical element of their lives would impact them as they go through their education. Children should be involved in so many different activities because by limiting them to one activity, we are also limiting their capabilities as students. I also think it gives the students a chance to be great at more than one activity as opposed to trying to be the best at one.

    The article really opened my eyes as to the importance for the parents to be involved in allowing their students to be more physically active in multiple ways. Children look up to their parents and it is much simpler to allow the parents to really influence their children. If a parent is constantly on a piece of technology, the children will learn from that behavior and want to do that as well. If more parents spent more time outside and being physically active, the more their children would be because they learn by example. I thought the article was really thoughtful and really made me think about the importance of those parents and the influence they have on their children about physical literacy.

  • Ashley Wingate

    I really enjoyed reading this article because there is a difference between physical literacy and being physically active. Physical literacy is when can individual understand and can comprehend how to move with competence and confidence in multiple activities that can improve their overall health. The individual can read their environment and understand how to make appropriate decisions. Being physically active does not necessarily mean that you understand how to take care of your body; it just means that you enjoy some sort of exercise. I think that if we implemented this in every PE classroom that many students would want to become more active, and better understand just how their body works.

    One of my favorite parts of this article was the analogy of the cradle to the grave. In this section it talks about how you should raise your child to be active for life. Yes, it is important that your child/ student loves a particular sport, but there might come a day when they can no longer play that sport on an actual team. We need to show our students that being overall healthy is just as important to dedicating your life to a particular sport. This is a journey and the students need to be able to have physical literacy to be able to fully accomplish this.

  • Melissa Hunt

    I really appreciated the amount of information in this article as a whole. As a future educator, I feel like this is something that I would be able to send home to my students parents to share with them the importance of physical literacy. I think it was really nice for everyone to see the difference in physical activity and physical literacy which are often confused and people think oh, if I am active than I doing everything they need to do to help educate the whole child. It is vital for people to know that physical activity isn’t the only thing that goes into being a healthy person.

    I also really liked how it talks about the sports that kids play. I was a 3 sport athlete in high school and I can’t even imagine if my parents would have made me stay with one sport the whole time I would have gone nuts, but I really like how it talks about if your child is happy in one sport, don’t try and change that. Just let them be who they want to be and do what they want to do.

  • Katie Schroeder

    I found this article very interesting. I thought it as interesting that physical literacy and physical activity are not considered the same thing. I always thought that if you were physically active than that meant you were physically literate. One thing I was not sure if I agreed with fully is when they said to be physically literate you have to be confident. I do not necessarily agree with this because some people are not as athletic as others. This could make people intimidated by those who out shine them. However, I liked how they said physical literacy happens in many different environment. This means it does not just happen through sports. I play sports in high school but I also loved going on walk with my family, bike rides with my best friends, and kayaking every summer. These are all things I really enjoy and I have never really thought of them as being a part of physical literacy. This means that it does not always have to be sports related which I think could help with being confident. Over all I found this article very interesting, and I really enjoyed how they explain physical literacy does not always mean sports. It is so much more than that.

  • Danielle Gilbert

    My favorite part of this article was when the you mentioned that physical education and sport curriculum need to be designed with a purpose. This definitely hit home with me right away. I had the type of p.e. teacher growing up that basically put some dodge balls in front of us and called it a day. And sometimes I really do believe that it is a possibility that I would be more physically fit and active if my teacher thought and taught more like we do in this class. As you mentioned in the article, as p.e. teacher, you are helping to build their confidence, which I most definitely lack. As a teacher, I want to make sure my students gain not only the skills needed to be physically literate, but the confidence that it takes to progress.

  • Elyse Romanovich

    While reading this article, I came at it with a much different perspective than the author. I was the kid growing up who had virtually zero confidence when it came to organized physical activity. I seemed to always be the last one picked for team games, I was clumsy and uncoordinated. That being said, I was involved in sports at the age of 5 until two eye surgeries required me to take a break from sports for a year. After that, I never really got back into sports. Recently, I have gotten overall more confident, and have become more athletic. For this reason, I agree more with the PHE Canada definition, than the Canadian Sport Life definition of physical literacy. The Canadian Sport Life definition suggests that physical literacy has to be achieved because adolescence. It is my own experience that I did not achieve physical literacy before adolescence, but I still do believe that I can achieve this someday, no matter my age.

  • Nikki Hahn

    Before reading PEH Canada’s definition of physical literacy, my personal understanding of the term was “someone who is knowledgeable of the benefits of physical activity and acknowledges the many different adaptations that can be made for each and every person’s capabilities.” I really enjoyed that the PEH Canada’s definition included the idea of “moving with competence and confidence.” I think it is important in all areas of physical activity to make sure the activity is achievable and versatile to different levels of skill.

    Physical literacy is a concept that is essential to both physical movements as well as intellectually. This has been proven in a number of different studies that the more a child is engaged in activity, the higher they perform in the classroom. I think when students have the “can do” attitude about sports and physical movements, that same attitude will carry over and reflect in their school work.

    I also believe that children who are confident in how they are able to perform certain activities will be confident in trying new adaptations or challenges in life. Young students are at an age where they are learning to be open to and respect new ideas. I think physical activity is a great way to introduce students to trying new things and appreciate all of the different benefits they offer to such a wide range of people.

  • Kelly Mattingly

    This article was a very interesting read. It really gave me a clearer perspective on physical literacy. I also really enjoyed the part where parents need to be just as informed about physical literacy as physical education teachers are. Especially now that PE time in school has been cut down, parents really need to relay this information to their children and support a healthy, active lifestyle. The different activitieslisted are a great resource for parents to read up on to get more advice. This could be something sent in an email from the PE teacher, whether it be a link to the full article or just highlighting the important bits of information to make it easier for the parents to read up on.

    I believe overall this article is a great read for parents, babysitters, aunts, uncles, etc. to look at to help engage the kids in. It discusses technology (which is a huge part of our lives now that it’s 2016), sports, and just overall ideas on keeping your child happy and healthy. I think the biggest, overall message from this article in the “cradle to grave” idea. We discuss this in our health class as well. The goal is to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle for years to come, not just now. This is an important idea to focus on.

  • Kaitlyn M.

    I truly enjoyed reading this article, and how it discussed the difference between physical literacy vs. physical education and being physically active. I love how the author really broke it down to teach and explain what physical literacy is. I had never heard of it until recently, and now feel like I have a much better grasp at the concept! I like that the author broke physical literacy down into three core concepts: competence, confidence, and a wide variety of environments. Physical literacy should be at the core of PE classes, sports teams, and enjoying exercise with friends and family. This is because, as the author said, “it supports long-term participation and performance to the best of one’s ability.” I truly believe in this!

    I love that the article emphasizes family involvement within their children’s physical activity. This will help to promote their competence and confidence, as well as provide them a great example! I think it’s so important to introduce different environments and different ways to be physically active. When children are introduced to a variety of physical activities, this can help them to further discover different passions that they may have, as well as enjoy themselves. I truly believe that the concept of physical literacy needs to be the foundation of our active lives, as it runs over into other areas of our lives, as well.

  • Kelli Rawlings

    I really enjoyed reading this article. It really got me thinking of the way PE taught when I was in school compared to how we are taught to teach it today. In my PE classes, we played a lot of team sports such as basketball and volleyball. This was fun for me because I am competitive and not necessarily bad at the sports. However, I can see how this work make some kids completely despise going to PE classes if they felt inadequate. It makes more sense to teach for physical literacy as opposed to physical activity or team sports,

    My almost 3 year old daughter is in soccer at her school and absolutely loves it. She looks forward to going every Tuesday. The thing I love most about her soccer lessons is that the teach for physical literacy. The articak reminded me of one of her first “practices”. Her and her teammates learned how to “fall down”. At the time I found this interesting, but such a great idea. It hurts when you fall down wrong! While sometimes this is unpreventable, how great it is that they practice falling with more grace.I also particulary love their report cards.They have items on them such as, “I have a desire to learn new skills”, “I have a creative imagination”, and “I have an encouraging spirit towards others”. They are teaching these children more than just soccer and the kids are having fun as well as staying active! That’s the direction I believe PE needs to be going.

    • Amanda Stanec

      Dear Kelly – LOVE LOVE LOVE that your daughter was taught to fall properly! That is so key! Thank you so much for sharing and commenting on the post! :) Amanda