Physical literacy is a relatively new term within education circles used to describe how
individuals can thrive through confidence building from physical activities. Going beyond the recognized health benefits of physical education, physical literacy delves deeper into the fundamentals of movement and harnessing children’s innate interest in being physically active.
This past spring a group of educators within the Kamloops Thompson School District and representatives from Pacific Sport’s Regional Sport Centre attended the inaugural 2013 International Physical Literacy Conference hosted in Banff, which focused on benefits of
introducing physical literacy into school-based environments.
Sherry Stade, healthy schools co-ordinator for School District 73, was in attendance and says the physical literacy movement works to develop opportunities for teachers to learn fundamentals about movement and focus on the management of large groups — whether in a gymnasium setting, outdoors or even in the classroom.
At the elementary school level, teachers are generalists, says Stade. The goal of this is to help build confidence and capacity in teachers who can incorporate physical activity into daily schedules in a more holistic way, and in getting children asking questions about their own health.
One of the things research has shown is that children are generally interested in physical activities and that interest peaks in about Grade 4, then falls off in some students.
However, through programs supported by organizations such as such Kids Can Move, which inspires kids to take risks by trying new things, children’s interest and momentum related to physical activity and sport may be maintained or increased.
Another aspect of the conference focused on research about using creativity and challenging children and youth to make up their own games they could then teach to their classmates. Results found individuals who were given the task of organizing a game that others could play and share in gave them a feeling of importance, and they were far more eager to participate.
The conference also served as a marker for what this district is already doing well in terms of physical activity programs.
“We are doing a good job in the area of fundamentals and making good strides with programs such as Action Schools B.C., which focuses on eating and daily physical activities for students” says Stade.
Another physical literacy opportunity the district participated in was a 12-week pilot program during the 2012-2013 school year, which was supported through ViaSport BC and Pacific Sport and included five schools with kindergarten to Grade 3 students and teachers. Participating schools had access to expertise and curriculum focused on a variety of activities for building confidence and focusing more on the benefits of movement in a variety of learning situations.
The goal for this district is to have partners in all components of childhood development, from education to enrichment and after-school programs, on board with the same messages about the importance of movement and physical activity.
Denise Harper is chairwoman of the Kamloops-Thompson school board.