Physical Literacy....What the Heck Is That?


More and more often the term “physical literacy” is being heard. But what is this exactly?   It means that, like reading and writing, there are basic skills that must be mastered before confidence and competency are gained.  To achieve physical literacy, children must first learn fundamental movement and sports skills.

We all want our kids to be active and to enjoy participating in sports throughout their lives. You can’t just sign them up for a sport, teach them rules and expect that their bodies will be able to perform the necessary movements. The early years are when you can help them get ready for sports and an active lifestyle by giving them confidence and helping them learn these fundamental skills. 

Up to 2 years of age stimulate and encourage grasping, rolling over, sitting, crawling, cruising and walking.

  • Encourage grasping with age-appropriate toys within easy reach
  • Give your baby regular “tummy time”
  • Put soft and colourful toys on the floor around your baby that they will want to crawl toward and reach
  • Roll soft balls on the floor toward them
  • Do lap rhymes and sing songs that have built in movements such as Pat-a-Cake, Row Row Row Your Boat, Wheels on the Bus
  • Create a safe environment free of obstacles so that your baby will be able to practice sitting, and later cruising and walking without getting hurt
  • Get them out of their baby seat or stroller and play!

In the toddler years (2-4), practice running, throwing, catching, kicking, swimming and skating. 

  • Go to the park, pool or rink often
  • Run together and take turns chasing each other
  • Use soft balls to play catch and kick the ball to each other
  • Create “goals” using patio furniture, trees, shrubs and other objects

From ages 4-6 years, focus on running, throwing and catching, falling and tumbling, hopping and jumping, skipping and cycling. 

  • Play tag
  • Register your child in a gymnastic program
  • Play hopscotch or jump rope
  • Put on music and dance together
  • Teach them to ride a bike

Make it fun!  With your support and encouragement, they will be well on their way!

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Submitted by Julie Brandl

Orignially published in The Mom & Caregiver Magazine in November 2013

Target Age
0-3 , 12-18 , 3-6 , 6-12
Engagement , Skill Development