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Physical literacy: getting kids moving

If you’re a parent or anyone who works with kids, you know how important it is to get kids moving. Whether it’s about burning off extra energy, getting blood flowing, or just moving our bodies through the day, it can all improve focus, improve sleep and help kids learn.

But, according to a 2020 ParticipACTION report card, only 39% of Canadian kids (5-17) are getting the 60 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity they need each day to be healthy.

To help combat that, this year our District has launched a new program to support teachers in getting kids moving through the day: our Physical Literacy program, run by a small group of our District and school-based staff.

What does that look like in schools? Well, it looks like a few things…

Movement masters. Two active, knowledgeable and engaged teachers have taken on the role of moving though schools and classrooms to teach specialized lessons around physical literacy: Chelsie Goodchild and Chad Oatway. They support classroom teachers and other staff by bring in supply kits of juggling scarves, slip pads, bands, cups and balls, and so much more. And after a short lesson where they talk about some key facts about movement, health or other related topics, they get kids up and moving in their school gyms and classrooms.

Following the sessions with Cheslie and Chad, teachers then have access to the “Physical Literacy in a Box” kits … enabling them to repeat and build on the activities and keep their students moving.

Don’t walk in the halls! This is the message kids at one of our elementary schools are getting, with others set to join them later in the spring. New decals have been laid down on hallway floors to encourage kids to hop, jump, and otherwise creatively move bodies through these patterned sensory pathways. And whether it’s a group activity or an individual opportunity for a student who needs to regroup quickly before they’re ready to more calmly join an activity, these new markers are a great way to use movement to centre kids’ attention.

What’s easy to see is: kids love this program! And it’s a great reminder for us all that sometimes all you need is a light scarf, or a plastic cup and a ball of paper to toss around … those simple games and activities that can help get kids active while practicing hand-eye coordination and more.

District Vice-Principal for Programs and Planning, Iain Lancaster is overseeing this initiative, and had this to say about what he’s hearing: “the feedback from teachers tells us this is working. The workshops are helping introduce important lessons and practices, and the kits support the increased activity that’s been inspired by the program. And we know that in providing this support and focus, we’re also improving kids’ capacity to learn.”

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