The modern day understanding of the term physical education and the process in which it is implemented changes from year-to-year, however one term that has seemed to strike a chord is ‘physical literacy.’
Physical literacy simply means a child’s growth and understanding of the body alongside learning to develop and nurture a lifelong relationship with health and physical activity. The COVID-19 pandemic led to many social issues amongst children, with many having to relearn skills that had previously been taught due to periods of isolation from in-person education and socialising. Although necessary to help end the waves of sickness, it was the children that suffered the most from the learning gap, with many turning to online gaming with friends rather than interacting in the usual physical and active ways.
As a physical educator, I have seen the impact on the body and mind firsthand, with more students finding it difficult to walk with their feet straight or developing the hand-eye coordination and timing to be able to catch a ball. Some kids become so worked up that it has become easier for them to give up, which negatively impacts their mental and physical health. This is where physical literacy becomes so important.
Parents and educators can work together to create a positive environment for these basic life skills to flourish. Simple activities such as rolling a ball back and forth, going to the park and kicking a soccer ball or running around with your child and encouraging them to have fun in what they are doing can potentially be the difference between a child developing a positive association with a healthy lifestyle (motivation, confidence and physical competence) and them wanting to give up on physical activity, losing out on its known positive benefits on mental health and overall wellbeing.
Nicholas Jones is an educator of 10 years who specialises in Physical Education and is also the owner of Whitetail Sports Camps and Coaching.