What is Physical Literacy?

When you are looking for a daycare for your child in either the Peekskill NY, area there are so many things to consider. There are practical matters like the operating hours, the convenience of the location, and the cost. There are also quality matters such as the training and demeanor of the teachers, the condition of the facility. And there are education concerns such as how they support children reaching their growth milestones such as kindergarten readiness. To this list, we’d like to add physical literacy. What this is, and it’s importance in a child’s education, is the topic of this week’s article.

Physical Literacy Defined

Physical literacy is defined by ShapeAmerica.org as being “the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.” In a daycare setting, this means doing organized physical activities that are designed to increase gross and fine motor skills and to allow the children to grow in confidence.
Now, you may think that any activity that gets your child tired enough to sit still for a few minutes, to nap so you can take a shower in peace is great, but there is more to it than that. Others may think that children don’t need organized physical activities, but that free play and running around is more than adequate. We would be the last people around to say that either of these points is valid. Nothing beats having a toddler or preschooler down for a deep, restful nap and free play is invaluable for the brain development of a child, but organized physical activity has an important role to play as well.

Three aspects make up physical literacy. They are the following:

  • The person is motivated to move.
  • The person is confident to move.
  • The person is competent to move.

But First, a Caveat

There are some very important things to remember when dealing with this concept and children who are toddlers and preschool ages. One is that not all children develop at the same rate. Generally speaking, for instance, boys master gross motor skills earlier than girls, and girls develop fine motor skills sooner than boys. There are of course exceptions, and this is no reason that all skills should not be introduced, but a child’s abilities should be supported as they naturally develop, not forced. Additionally, not all children have the physical abilities to do all activities. There are children with disabilities, of one type or another, and their physical literacy goals can be individually determined by their parents, educators, and doctors if need be.

The Learning Cycle

There is a cycle to physical literacy. Just as children learn their ABC’s, they can learn physical activities. The cycle moves from curiosity to exploration to repetition to the level of mastery and, finally, to confidence. When a child feels confident in their abilities to take part in games and activities, they are more likely to step up and join in, therefore increasing their mastery. When a child feels mastery, they are more likely to be curious and explore new activities, and so the cycle moves forward.

Age Appropriate Activities

Organized activities need to start slow with appropriate expectations. For small children, simple games like a game with a parachute or with ring around the rosie type games. One of our favorites games is Catch and Do. Take an inflated beach ball and mark each colored segment with an activity such as jump, turn around, hop on one foot, wiggle your body, and clap your hands. The ball is tossed from one child to another and when the ball is caught the child sees what word their left or right hand is one (This game is good to practice left and right too). A picture of the activities can accompany the word to help children learn to read the words too. For more ideas for young children, visit this site.

Child’s World Academy

Here at Child’s World Academy daycare, we use a curriculum that has been developed to conform to the state education guidelines of New York or Connecticut, since we have day care centers in both states. These guidelines include standards about physical development.

If you are interested in enrolling your child in a day care in Peekskill, NY or Monroe, CT, call us today to arrange a visit to the most convenient location. We look forward to meeting you!