Physical Literacy - The Body & Mind Connection

Susan M. Parker - Principal – Elizabeth Barrett School – I rode my bicycle from Calgary to Mexico one summer during my university undergrad years. It was an amazing experience. Since then, I have cycled up the East Coast of Australia, rode with my husband on our tandem bike in the Gulf Islands, through Napa Valley and continue to find any opportunity to ride my bike. A recent highlight was joining our son on the last leg of his cycling trip down the coast from Vancouver to Mexico. I continue to love being physically active, yet I don’t consider myself an athlete. I save that description for those who were the competitive, talented people who were on my high school and university sports teams.

Teaching and supporting ALL of our students to be physically literate is instrumental in having our students leading active and healthy lives. Developing the fundamental movement skills that are the building blocks of all activities help us to become confident and find our strengths, just as we do in the classroom.

What is physical literacy? “Physical literacy is the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.” International Physical Literacy Association, May, 2014.

At Rocky View Schools (RVS), we recognize the importance of getting our students active and healthy. Our physical literacy work is an extension of our work around diet, as it supports our belief that healthy bodies go hand-in-hand with healthy minds.

Using flexible spaces and embedding physical activity in our daily lives at our school has made a tremendous impact on our students’ ability to self-regulate and help them understand who they are as learners. We know RVS works diligently to support our students’ social and emotional needs. Our physical literacy work has had a positive impact on our students and staff. We believe our work is sustainable and holds great value to support all of RVS’ other initiatives like our focus on literacy and numeracy.

A University study asked boys and girls aged 10 - 12 why they played sports.

The top five reasons were:

  1. To have fun.
  2. To do something I’m good at.
  3. To improve my skills.
  4. To stay in shape.
  5. To get exercise.

“Winning” didn’t even make the top ten reasons…NOT having fun is one of the major reasons 70 per cent of kids quit playing sports by the time they’re 13.

Research also has shown us that boys are driven to take part in sports because they love the sport itself. Girls are typically driven to take part in sports as a desire to be with a social group. This means it is imperative our schools teach the skills of movement, so ALL students are equipped to take part in sports outside of school and extend their enjoyment of sport for life.

We want to use our work to impact as many of our students as possible. We are champions of the physical literacy work and we are proud to use our knowledge of physical literacy as part of our foundational work to support learning for all students.

I encourage you to learn more about how we can support our kids in being healthy and active:

Physically yours,