What is Physical Literacy?
What is it and why is it so crucial
Physical Literacy is described as "the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge, and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life." Our Gymnastics Manager, Nikki, discusses why it's crucial and how to improve it to ensure children have a healthy relationship with physical activity long into their lives...
'Sports have played a vital role throughout my life from my involvement in a variety of sports to now being the mum of two active young children.
Physical literacy is always on my mind – it has informed which activities my children take part in; what we do as a family and the decisions I make professionally.
In a nutshell, it is about developing the skills, knowledge and behaviours that give children the confidence and motivation to lead active and healthy lifestyles. It is relevant to everyone no matter how involved they are with sport, and the benefits can be applied to many areas of their lives.
Over 20% of reception age children (4-5 years) are considered obese or overweight whilst mental health problems are affecting 1 in 6 of our 5-16 year olds.
A measured decline in healthy lifestyles means we must employ everything in our power to encourage our younger generations, and physical literacy does just that.
Proven to help improve health and wellbeing, it allows young people to push their boundaries and show them what they are capable of – crucially building upon self-esteem and confidence.
The benefits of physical literacy go beyond an active setting, positively influencing academic performance including improved memory and concentration.
It also encourages leadership, collaboration, and cooperation – essential social skills that form the building blocks to long-term friendships.
There are infinite opportunities to build upon physical literacy skills whether at home, school or in the community, with the aim that children are given the confidence and the motivation to participate in physical activity now and throughout their lives.
I am lucky to have had a career in the leisure industry as well as relationships with national governing bodies and external providers to ensure our physical activity offering is promoted to all, regardless of age or ability. Whether attending drop-in sessions with parents and guardians or being introduced to sports at a recreational or advanced level - the aim has always stayed the same: to allow children to learn it, like it and love it!
We hope that every programme we offer instils physical literacy in a relaxed, supportive and fun environment to an extent that our young people go on to live it and remain active long into adulthood.'
Nikki’s top 5 tips for improving physical literacy in children outside of the school environment:
- Outdoor play and exploration i.e., climbing trees, balancing on walls, playgrounds.
- Choose an afterschool activity like gymnastics that has plenty of universal skills like balance, strength, and co-ordination, benefitting all sports in the long run.
- Use a range of sporting games that practice ball skills, hand eye coordination, or do some obstacle courses.
- Swimming – in addition to being a lifesaving skill, swimming opens the door to many other activities later in life – snorkelling, water sports, diving etc.
- Toddler sessions like bouncy castles, soft play and climbing activities are invaluable in the early years.
We have a wide range of activities available for children of all ages.
Find your centre and see what they have on offer.