Physical Literacy in Schools
Just by the very fact you are reading this article predetermines your ability to understand the means of common written communication. It equally determined that your ability to understand this article has been a skill that you have developed over the span of your life. You have added to your ability to decipher and understand written text and the complexities of interpretation are also at play.
In recent times, the word ‘literacy’ has been adapted to meanings beyond the world of language and one area of particular relevance is in physical or ‘athletic’ development. Physical literacy is in fact much more than simply knowing important physical skills and traits; it is more about using your physical self to undertake movements and to make decisions in a range of situations. In sporting terms, your ‘physical literacy’ is the timely choice of athletic decision-making and motor action.
Interestingly, just like with other forms of literacy, physical literacy is a ‘journey’ that begins at a young age. Young people, through their engagement with opportunities of a physical kind, are prompted to apply their understanding or ‘physical literacy’ when playing games or performing simple tasks. They do so when negotiating the ‘monkey bars’ in the playground, playing ‘chasey’ or performing a complex athletic manoeuvre or skill. These ‘opportunities’ to ignite levels of ‘physical literacy’ are everywhere in the school-yard!
Research suggests that simple ABC’s (agility, balance and coordination) and KGB’s (kinesthesis, gliding, buoyancy) ‘opportunities’ allow your child to develop strong levels of physical literacy. Importantly specialising in any one activity is not recommended at the earliest stages of physical development.
The careful placement of our students into learning opportunities is critical to their ability to negotiate a path of evolving physical literacy. Milestones of opportunity and then competency in the physical spectrum are equally as important as in more traditional learning pathways.
At Princes, through our vast co-curricular and sports program we have a strong commitment to offering a wide variety of physical experiences to our students starting with simple engagement in the enjoyment of physical activity. The simple act of ‘play’ is, in effect, the most basic yet best way to offer your son a chance to develop his ‘physical literacy’.
One of our recent Old Scholars, Sam Day (graduated 2010 and now represents the Gold Coast Suns in the AFL) is exactly the type of confident, physically literate, student that we should look to as an example. Sam is a supremely talented young man yet he did not limit himself to football. First and foremost he was a keen student. He sought learning opportunities in every situation whether they were in the classroom or on the sporting arena. In the sporting context he was an exceptional all round athlete. Sam was a very talented basketballer, baseballer and swimmer. In fact, his physical talents had very few limits based on the simple fact he engaged in all the opportunities presented to him in a timely and keen manner. By not trying to ‘specialize’ in any one activity from a young age, he gave himself a wider and deeper range of skills that he applied to almost any physical task.
Clearly, one of the best messages you can give your child is to encourage their involvement in a wide range of learning activities in the physical environment. Princes sport and co-curricular program gives you this opportunity in spades!
Director of Co-curricular