Physical Literacy


The clock is ticking; we want every child to be happy, healthy and confident, both now and for their future. 

Unfortunately without the right skills, confidence and motivation to be physically active, the chances of this are far less likely.

That is why we want every child to be physically literate, it is as important to a young person’s future as reading and writing.

It means that a child will take part in sport and physical activity throughout life, allowing them to stay healthy, but also providing lots of other benefits and opportunities.

To help our children become physically literate, we all need to act now. Each and everyone one of us has a part to play in helping a child discover what they can do, before they give up and turn into couch potatoes. 

What is Physical Literacy?

Physical Literacy means that a person has a catalogue of technical skills along with the confidence and motivation to take part in lots of different sports and physical activities at every stage in their life.

It gives them the power to choose to be physically active in whatever way they prefer, taking away fears of ‘having a go’ or a lack of motivation that many of us can suffer from.

There are 4 individual elements that lead to a person becoming physically literate…

Physical Skills + Confidence + Motivation + Lots of opportunities = Physical Literacy

Find out more about each of the individual elements of the physical literacy equation below.

Physical Skills

When a child is learning to read they first learn words such as cat, sat, mat.  Similarly as a child learns physical skills they learn skills such as how to run, jump, throw and balance. 

Children then string words together into sentences and read them.  In the same way, physical skills are linked together to create movement phrases and perform activities such as riding a bike, swimming or performing the triple jump.

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Confidence + Motivation

Developing the right skills to allow them to try anything in a fun and safe environment means a child will grow up enjoying sport and physical activity.

These positive experiences will allow this child to build an intrinsic motivation, along with a confidence in their ability, to always want to be physically active.

They will develop into an adult who has the necessary skills to participate and enjoy sport and physical activity throughout life at whatever level they chose, whether recreationally or competitively. 

The important component of this element is that the child is exposed to positive, fun and safe experiences, capturing their natural motivation while they are young; when they will try anything! 

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Lots of opportunities

Finally, practice makes perfect and to become physically literate a child needs to have lots of opportunities to practice skills, and reinforce their positive experience.Everybody; family, teachers, play workers, health professionals, coaches, sports governing bodies and young leaders all have a part to play in helping a child to become physically literate. 

Opportunities to support this development with resources such as Play to Learn and Dragon Multi-skills and Sport could take place in the home, in school or in the community.  

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Physical skill + Confidence + Motivation + Lots of Opportunities = Physical Literacy

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