Physical literacy is “the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding that individuals develop in order to maintain physical activity at an appropriate level throughout their life” (Whitehead, 2010).
A physical literate child is able to move capably and confidently in a range of physically challenging situations, is able to read the physical environment, anticipating possible movement needs, and is able to respond intelligently and imaginatively. Additionally, a physical literate child will understand the benefits and importance of daily physical activity and will seek opportunities to participate in sports or activities either recreationally or competitively.
In contrast, a child who has not yet developed a high level of physical literacy will seek to avoid physical activity wherever possible, have minimal confidence in their physical ability, and will not be motivated to participate in structured physical activity (Whitehead, 2010)
Physical literacy can be developed in early years by learning fundamental movement skills in a safe and positive environment. Some example of fundamental movement skills include:
Toddlers need at least 180 minutes of physical activity at any intensity spread throughout the day that help develop movement skills.
Preschoolers require a minimum of 180 minutes of physical activity at any intensity spread throughout the day in many different environments.
Children ages 5 to 11 need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity daily with muscle and bone strengthening activities at least 3 days per week.
Children at this age require a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. At this age, the child should have the confidence and competence to execute a variety of movements in various environments.