How to improve physical literacy in children

29 April 2015 By Louise Hardcastle, Assistant Buyer - Sports, Early Years & Special Needs

Sport Literacy

We focus on the key topic of PE and sport in schools, and provide some useful ideas on how to help your pupils be physically literate.

The vision of the Primary PE and Sport Premium Funding is for all pupils to leave primary school ‘physically literate and with the knowledge, skills and motivation necessary to equip them for a healthy lifestyle and lifelong participation in physical activity and sport.’1

But what exactly is physical literacy and what can you do to promote it through your PE and sport provision? 

The Youth Sport Trust defines physical literacy as ‘the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding that provides children with the movement foundation for lifelong participation in physical activity.’

Useful ideas for developing physical literacy

While it is important to see physical literacy as an outcome of your PE lesson, rather than a focus, here are a few ideas on how you could develop physical literacy:

  • Try smaller versions of a sport

Using smaller playing areas and teams is a great way of introducing sports to children and allowing them to develop the skills needed to play on a larger scale. For example, cones and pop-up goals can be used to develop football dribbling and shooting skills with small groups of pupils.   

  • Demonstrate improvement

Children will become more confident and motivated if they can see improvement in their own abilities. Athletics activities such as hurdles or javelin lend themselves to measurement. You could take a weekly measurement of a pupil’s time or distance to demonstrate how their skills have developed since the start of training. 

  • Encourage teamwork

Teamwork is an important part of sporting activity and children can develop self confidence, leadership and co-operation skills. A quick way to identify and change teams is by the use of team bibs or bands.

  • Introduce competitive sport

Competition is a fundamental aspect of all sports as well as other aspects of life. A sports day with awards and certificates is a fun way of introducing a sense of achievement, and friendly rivalry between pupils (and teachers too!)

  • Promote healthy lifestyles

Physical literacy is not just about physical skills; children need to recognise the importance of healthy eating and exercising outside of PE lessons. Simple ideas such as taking the stairs rather than the lift can be discussed in the context of healthy lifestyles. 


Looking for more sports ideas? Browse our wide range of sports equipment.

Find out more about the Youth Sport Trust’s Primary School Physical Literacy Framework.

1Association for Physical Education - Advice on the Primary PE & Sport Premium.

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