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10 positive outcomes of physical literacy for children

Children running up a grassy hill

Learning to be physically literate is an essential part of every child’s development.

Children who don’t learn how to read and write grow up to become adults who don’t know how to read and write.  The same is true for movement skills; children who never develop patterns of movement may grow up to become sedentary and uncoordinated adults. 

In our previous article we discussed the meaning of physical literacy and why it was so crucial for every child to become physically literate before they reached the age of puberty. Physical literacy creates a blueprint for an active life and will ensure every child has the best chance at a better future. However, these skills don’t just benefit children during the latter part of their lives, because those who are physically literate can enjoy many benefits from the onset and throughout their adult lives. Here are just a few reasons why every child should be physcially literate. 

1. Prevent childhood obesity

1 in 5 children who leave primary school are now obese. While you can’t out run a bad diet, children who are active from a young age have a significantly lower risk of being overweight or obese. Help prevent childhood obesity by encouraging children to participate in regular physical activity until it forms a habit and teach them to eat a healthy and balanced diet. 

2. Spatial awareness 

Children who are physically literate have spatial and bodily awareness and they move confidently. Learning balance, coordination and agility from an early age encourages good posture, form and movement during physical activities and throughout their daily lives.

3. Academic improvements 

Physical activity has been proven to have a positive effect on children’s academic skills. A study in North Carolina, who raised activity levels amongst a group of children, found that 14.8% of students were more focused, 17% were more alert and 8% had improved their behaviour which facilitated better learning in the classroom. 

4. Improved confidence

Children who are physically literate are confident when practising new movements and skills. This air of confidence exudes into other areas of their lives, such as making friends, challenging themselves academically and trying new things. 

5. Love of sports

Participation in sports is declining because children aren’t developing the fundamental movement skills which enable them to confidently play sports. If they don’t feel comfortable playing sports, they aren’t going to enjoy participating. By helping children to become physically literate from a young age, we are inspiring a new generation of people to develop a love of sports which will continue throughout their lives. Some children may also continue to develop sports specific skills and go on to play at an elite level. 

6. Happiness

More and more primary school children are suffering from stress and anxiety due to stricter testing regulations, the BBC reported that 82% of teachers believed that children have more pressure on them than they did 10 years ago. Physical activity is proven to reduce levels of stress and aid sleep and relaxation, providing children with an outlet to beat stress. 

7. Social skills and team building

Children who regularly engage in physical activity find it easier to make social relationships and interact with their peers. Team sports such as football, rugby and netball are a simple and effective way to boost confidence and teach children how to work with one another and to communicate.  

8. Coordination and reactions

Having good coordination skills and reaction times are important for a number of aspects in our adult lives. Children who are physcially literate can perform a range of movements with good coordination and react quickly to their environment. Demonstrating skills such as these will make activities such as driving, cycling, dancing and playing an instrument much easier compared to those who lack coordination. 

9. Sense of freedom and adventure

How can you tell whether a child is physically literate? Because they enjoy exploring the world around them independently. They jump, skip and roll and are always on the go. You can’t stop them from joining in with other kids playing sports, even if it isn’t a sport they usually play. This sense of adventure and freedom is only found in physically literate children. 

10. Memory and cognitive processes

Regular physical exercise has a direct effect on the health of the brain and could even improve children's memory. Many studies have found that exercise stimulates chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. In addition, studies have also suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking have greater volume in people who exercise compared to people who don’t.

Can you think of any other positive outcomes of raising a physically literate child? Like us on Facebook and share your opinion. You can also join the mailing list to get brand new articles delivered to your inbox every week.