Primary Schools

Why It’s Time for Physical Literacy to Break Out of PE Lessons

Young girl running and smiling outdoors

For a long time, physical education has been the ‘fun uncle’ of school curriculums. We know all about its importance and why it’s necessary for development. The problem, however, is it seems to occupy its own unique, rebellious space.

You could say PE is the ‘black sheep’ of the academic world.

It is noisy and unpredictable. Often, it serves as an antidote for the discipline of regular classrooms. It’s not uncommon for students with behavioural problems to excel at PE. The subject is so different to other lessons that it feels like a break from learning.

The Role of Physical Education in Schools

There’s nothing wrong with offering students a chance to step away from their schoolbooks. PE should be fun. It should be raucous and full of life. Kids need a safe space for running, jumping, and playing, especially after a long day of reading and doing sums.

On the other hand, educators must acknowledge the true potential of physical literacy. It cannot be a supplementary subject. It’s more than an outlet for pent up energies. When performed daily, even a small amount of exercise changes the makeup of the brain.

What Is Physical Literacy and Why Do We Need It?

So, to the big question. What is physical literacy? Is it the same as physical education and, if not, what makes it different? Well, physical education is a method for delivering physical literacy in schools. It’s what we know as ‘PE’ and it typically operates as its own subject.  

Physical literacy is a set of skills - like reading, writing, and multiplication - that are universally valuable. Jumping, kicking, catching, skipping, and running are abilities we use on a regular basis without giving it much thought. They keep us nimble, agile, and in good shape.

According to new research, physical literacy is so vital for brain development that it’s not enough to offer it in a twice weekly slot. If you want students to show focus, drive, and engagement, you’ve got to make movement central to their lives.  

Realising the Potential of a Holistic Curriculum

PE lessons plans, delivered as part of the curriculum, are highly valuable. They’re great for getting kids involved in school sport and refining key skills. Movement, on the other hand, should be a constant; on the playground, in lessons, during lunch breaks, and at home.

Schools can help with this by incorporating exercise for kids into every subject. If they’re learning about shapes in maths, get them to form the answers with their bodies. If they’re discussing plants in science, send them out to pick flowers.

So, what is physical literacy? It is movement, little and often. It’s ten minutes of silly yoga poses at the end of a history lesson. It’s a race to the nearest tree to decide who helps the teacher with an experiment. It’s stretching before sums. It’s jumping jacks after assembly.

At Amaven, we work with schools to develop a physical literacy framework. We deliver everything from PE teacher training to advice on kids’ health, childhood obesity, sports coaching, and more.

We can help your students move faster, exercise better, and live healthier. It’s time to exploit the power of physical literacy. Get fit, feel fantastic.   

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