Is your child physically literate?

Is your child physically literate?



Literacy and numeracy; two terms we’re all familiar with and understand to be key skills in a child’s development.


But what about physical literacy? A term we’re maybe less familiar with, and yet is considered by many to be just as important to a child’s development.



So first, what is physical literacy?

As with anything there’s a whole ream of different definitions that we’ll leave for the scholars to discuss.

Fundamentally, physical literacy is about having the key physical skills, confidence, knowledge, motivation and love of movement to be physically active for life.



How is physical activity developed?

Just as we’re not born knowing how to speak, read, write and count, we’re not born with fully developed balance and coordination. In the same way you’d read with your child to develop their literacy, interaction is needed to develop their movement skills.

Some ways you can support your child are:


  • Model being physically active

If your child sees you being active, no doubt they’ll want to be too and copy your actions.


  • Reveal a variety of physical activities to your child

By being exposed to lots of different activities, children have more choice when finding what it is they enjoy. Confidence in their skills is built, encouraging them to give new things a go.


  • Encouragement

Physical literacy, as with other skills, takes time to develop. Being patient and providing support is key.


  • Family fun

Being active as a family and making it part of your routine ensures children are given the opportunity to be physically active and can give it value, demonstrating it as a priority.


  • Advocate

You could have a chat with your child’s coaches or teachers about physical literacy and how they’re supporting development.


Different skills develop at different ages, if you’re looking for activities and resources for specific ages, take a look at Active for Life



What are the signs of physical literacy?

Here’s some of what you might see if your child is physically literate:

(Quick note, as mentioned above children develop different skills at different ages and rates, so this list isn’t exclusive or exhaustive, but hopefully can give you a general idea of what to look for.)


  • Your child encounters a new game or activity and gets stuck in without hesitation.
  • Your children decide to invent their own games using things like balls, sticks, balloons or anything else they can find.
  • You’re on a family walk and a stream blocks your path. Your child hops from stone to stone, crossing with ease.
  • You turn the radio on for background music and your children immediately start to dance.
  • At the playground your children moan when you tell them they’ve got 5 minutes left until it’s time to head home.
  • Your children are excited about getting sports equipment or new trainers.
  • Your child turns your furniture into a climbing frame.
  • You ask your children for help moving boxes and they bend their knees when picking each one up.
  • When asked what they want to do at the weekend, your children answer “swimming” or “go to the park!”
  •  Your child asks you to pass them an apple, you throw it to them and they catch it effortlessly.


Who knew that your children turning your living room into their own personal playground or moaning at you when telling them it’s home time could be seen as positive?


Without physical literacy children are far less likely to be active, something which can continue into adulthood. We all know the detrimental effects of inactivity on both the body and mind; low self-esteem, negative impact on academic performance, reduced confidence, significant health problems, the list goes on.


As parents we want to do all we can to support our children in realising their full potential, to lead active, healthy and happy lives; physical literacy gives them the building blocks to do exactly that.