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As They Grow – Physical Literacy and the Early Years

Physical literacy is having the movement skills and the motivation, confidence and competence to move for a lifetime. The early years provide an opportunity to develop these skills with adult role modelling and support.

The early years are an important time for children to move. For children to be physically active they need to develop physical literacy at an early age. Children need to learn how to run, jump, throw, catch and balance so they can be active. When children feel confident performing these movement skills, they are more likely to participate in games and activities.

For infants (aged less than one year), the focus should be on tummy time, reaching and grasping for toys, playing and rolling on the floor, and crawling. Provide a safe environment with active supervision. Toddlers like to explore by walking, jumping, and pushing or pulling different toys or objects. Kicking, rolling or throwing the ball back and forth are all examples of activities. For preschoolers, running, skipping, dancing and playing games like tag will further help develop their movement skills.

Providing opportunities for infants, toddlers and preschoolers to participate in a wide variety of age-appropriate, enjoyable, safe physical activities supports their healthy growth and development. In the early years the focus should be on fun. Patience and encouragement will help build their confidence and motivation. Developing these movement skills in the early years are the building blocks for being physically active for life.

For more information, visit:

Middlesex-London Health Unit    https://www.healthunit.com/

Sport for Life  https://sportforlife.ca/

Active for Life https://activeforlife.com/



1 Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. (2017). 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years {0-4 years} Retrieved from https://csepguidelines.ca/

2 Canadian Sport for Life. (2019). Developing Physical Literacy Building a New Normal for all Canadians https://physicalliteracy.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/DPL-2_EN_web_November_2019-1.pdf

3Active for Life. (2020). Physical Literacy. Retrieved from https://activeforlife.com/?s=physical+Literacy


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