Physical literacy’s impact on children’s development

A 2018 ParticipACTION’s report says Canadian kids get a D+ grade for their overall level of physical activity.

ParentConnect, a registered Canadian not-for-profit organization that focuses on promoting positive parenting, recently hosted a seminar and demo game at First Markham Place. They were joined by experts to help parents understand the importance of engaging kids in physical activities for better physical and mental development.

There have been rising concerns on children’s physical health in recent years. According to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, pre-schoolers, aged three and four, need at least 180 minutes of physical activities daily. However, only 62 per cent of those children are getting the recommended physical activity levels. As well, only 13 per cent of Canadian children, aged three and four, meet recommendations on all move, sleep and sit guidelines for the early years.

According to the International Physical Literacy Association, physical literacy is the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.

A lot of parents focus only on children’s languages, math and other academic aspects,” said Loretta Lam, ParentConnect Inc. founder. “They often neglect or have lack of knowledge about the importance of children’s physical activities as well as the physical and mental benefits brought along. We hope this kind of seminar with kids-friendly demonstration would encourage parents to learn about physical literacy and how to implement it into children’s daily routine for their health and development. We also encourage sports that parents can play with their kids for better family bonding.”

Seneca College School of Early Childhood Education Professor Alain Koo spoke on his innovative basketball curriculum that promotes physical literacy and helps form the building blocks for athletic capabilities that enhance mental and physical development in children. Following the seminar, the Canadian Chinese Youth Athletic Association (CCYAA) hosted a live demonstration basketball clinic to showcase some of the curriculum.

“Our Rising Stars program helps to facilitate athletic development in children between the ages of three to five and also aims to build a lifelong love-of-the-game through fun and engaging activities,” said Clement Chu, CCYAA president. “Through our partnership with Professor Koo and the School of Early Childhood Education at Seneca College, CCYAA has been able to deliver a program that is truly unique in that it teaches fundamental physical skills and also leverages the popularity of basketball. Basketball as a sport has traditionally been relegated to older children simply because of the physical strength required to throw a large ball 11 feet in the air. However, through modification and customization, we are able to bring the enjoyment of the game and contextualize it for a younger demographic.”

Others reports indicate physical activity is not only related to physical health but also improvements in mental health by reducing and preventing anxiety and depression as well as enhancing self-esteem. Evidence suggests a relationship between physical activities and the structure and functioning of the brain. Children who are more active show greater attention and faster cognitive processing while performing better in standardized academic tests.

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Photo: Children had fun learning fundamental movement skills under the supervision of Professor Alain Koo and CCYAA coaches at a ParentConnect expert seminar and basketball demonstration game.

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