Healthy, able and active citizens: the importance of physical literacy

Physical literacy is the foundation of physical education, it is not a programme but an outcome of any structured physical education provision, which is achieved more readily if learners encounter a range of age and stage appropriate opportunities.

QPE should enable children and young people to become physically literate, and provision should feature from the early years through the entire school journey to secondary school education. Fundamental movement skills are a vital aspect of physical literacy and, also, to the development of healthy, able, and active citizens.

Considering its importance to rounded human development, policy-makers should place emphasis on this, supporting physical literacy through early years’ education programmes which encourage active play every day, such as running, jumping, climbing, dancing, and skipping.

The promotion of physical literacy should then remain a key feature of any physical education curriculum throughout primary and secondary education.

What does a physically literate person look like?

Physically literate individuals possess assurance and self-confidence in-tune with their movement capabilities. They demonstrate sound coordination and control, and can respond to the demands of a changing environment.

They will relate well to others, demonstrating sensitivity in their verbal and non-verbal communication, and will have empathetic relationships. The physically literate individual will enjoy discovering new activities, and will welcome advice and guidance, confident in the knowledge that they will experience some success.

The individual will appreciate the intrinsic value of physical education, as well as its contribution to health and well-being, and will be able to look ahead through the life course with the expectation that participation in physical activity will continue to be a part of life.

Source: Whitehead (2010)

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