Living Well: Creating a Long-Term Framework for Sport & Physical Literacy Development – Part Four

So far in this blog series I have shared how my PHE Department worked to define what knowledge, skills and attitudes students should develop through our Physical & Health Education (PHE) program. In Part One I shared how we used the concept of Physical Literacy to shape our curriculum development process and in Part Two, how we broke this enormous concept down into sub-domains. In Part Three I shared I the framework we used to provide a holistic approach to physical literacy development through a Head, Hands, Heart approach. In this blog post I will share how we modified the Long-Term Athlete Development model to support our implementation of our new curriculum.

Knowing that Quality Physical Education is the planned, progressive, inclusive learning experience that acts as the foundation for a lifelong engagement in physical activity and sport, we were aware that the learning experiences offered to children and young people through this curriculum should be developmentally appropriate to help them acquire the psychomotor skills, cognitive understanding, and social and emotional skills they need to develop their physical literacy and lead a physically active life (McLennan & Thompson, 2017). Across their school careers at Meadowridge, students have the opportunity to engage in Physical & Health Education, school sport through our Gryphon Athletic program, intramurals and recreation, and structured and unstructured play opportunities. Canadian Sport for Life recommends that it is in everyone’s best interest that within all of these areas a common approach to developing physical literacy and athletic potential is developed (Higgs, Way, Harber, Jurbala, & Balyi, 2019). 

To facilitate our implementation of the curriculum we consulted Canadian Sport for Life’s Long-Term Athletic Development (LTAD) model and its seven stages. The seven LTAD stages are the basis of developmentally appropriate programs that increase participation and optimize performance. The first three stages and the final stage emphasize the development of physical literacy, with potential progressions towards sports excellence highlighted in the later stages (“Developing Physical Literacy – Building a New Normal for all Canadians – Sport for Life,” 2019).  

Students at Meadowridge School are first exposed to Physical & Health Education at Junior Kindergarten and it is compulsory until Grade 10. Understanding that LTAD is a lengthy progress, our role as Physical & Health Educators may only contribute to some stages and as such we chose to focus on the Active Start, FUNdamentals and Active for Life stages. We also included an additional stage, Move with Purpose, not described in the Canadian Sport for Life Model, to bridge the gap between FUNdamentals and Active for Life. Within our school the responsibility for the development of the Learn to Train, Train to Train and Train to Win stages falls with our Gryphon Athletics program. The diagram below shows our Long-Term Sport & Physical Literacy Development Model, adapted from the Canadian Sport for Life model.

Once students reach the end of their compulsory Physical & Health Education program, in Grade 10, our curriculum aims to have provided them with the tools to transfer their knowledge & skills outside of organized physical & health education lessons and into their wider community. To ensure that this will occur, our goal was to identify observable learning outcomes at each stage for the four domains of physical literacy development. The next part of this blog post will describe the key features of how each stage contributes to a students long-term development in sport and physical literacy at Meadowridge School.

Active Start (Foundations & Exploration)

Students in Junior Kindergarten (4-year-olds) to Grade 1 (6-year-olds) enter the Active Start stage and are presented with opportunities for physical literacy development during Physical & Health Education classes, as well as during play. This stage is focused on building foundations and exploring their movement capabilities. The Active Start stage enhances development of brain function, coordination, social skills, gross motor skills, emotions, leadership, and imagination. It helps children build confidence, develop posture and balance, build strong bones and muscles, promote healthy weight, reduce stress, improve sleep, learn to move skillfully, and learn to enjoy being active (Bell-Laroche, 2008). We identified that as students progress through this stage they are expected to explore & learn new movement skills in and through different environments; learn and establish how the body can be used to move, hold, control, send, and manipulate different objects; and establish control of two or more parts of the body at the same time. They will begin to understand and explain why they participate in a particular movements or physical activity; identify basic tactics within a physical activity; and participate within the rules of physical activities. Students will be able to reflect on how they feel after participating in physical activity; participate in a range of new and unfamiliar physical activities with encouragement & assistance; and actively seek assistance to negotiate unresolved conflict in physical activity.

FUNdamentals (Acquisition & Accumulation)

Students in Grade 2 (7-year-olds) to Grade 4 (9-year-olds) are provided opportunities to develop their physical literacy in the FUNdamentals stage during Physical & Health Education classes, during play, as well as intramurals. This stage is focused on acquiring and accumulating a wide variety of movement capabilities. The FUNdamentals stage focuses on the development of fundamental movement skills, with an emphasis on participation and having fun on a daily basis. Formal competition should only be minimally introduced during this stage (Higgs, Way,  et al., 2019). We identified that as students progress through this stage they are expected to adopt and refine movement skills, performing them with control and accuracy across different environments; develop and refine body control to coordinate the smooth movement and control of multiple body parts to execute specific actions or techniques; and experience movement involving the components of health-related fitness to recognize that participation in physical activity is important for health and wellbeing. Students should understand and recall key knowledge in relation to physical and health activities; identify the underlying reasons for rules; and explore tactics and concepts within the rules of a physical activity. They should be able to express personal preferences, needs and wants in relation to movement and physical activity; and be drawn to participate in things they think they can do, or are good at. Students at this stage will begin to recognize how emotions influence actions, and show an awareness of the feelings and  needs of others and expresses emotions constructively. Engaging with others they will demonstrate cooperative behaviour, follow instructions, rules & safety procedures, and demonstrate a willingness to work with a variety of partners.

Move with Purpose (Consistency & Extension)

Students in Grade 5 (10-year-olds) to Grade 8 (13-year-olds) are provided opportunities to develop their physical literacy in the Move with Purpose stage during Physical & Health Education classes, during play, intramurals, and as part of school athletic teams. This stage is focused on consistency and extension, as students analyze their movement capabilities and make plans for improvement. This stage is not described as part of the LTAD model, however we felt for students not interested in joining our school sport teams and entering the Learn to Train stage, there was a need to bridge the gap between the FUNdamentals and Active for Life stages. We identified that as students progress through this stage they are expected to select from a range of movement skills and apply the most appropriate skill in dynamic physical activity contexts. By participating and planning physical activities that develop health-related and skill-related fitness components they will be able to reflect on personal levels of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and fitness. Students should be able to identify, understand and analyze key features of multiple physical and health activities and applies this knowledge to create, adapt and innovate rules that enable fair play and inclusive participation in a range of physical activities. After identifying and describing their strengths and areas for development, students should be able to suggest strategies to improve these in movement & physical activities. They will demonstrate motivation, confidence and commitment when faced with challenging or unfamiliar movement and physical activities and recognize the benefits of participating in a range of physical activities not just ones that they enjoy. When participating in physical activities they will actively involve others, take responsibility for their own actions, and use appropriate strategies to negotiate conflict independently for positive outcomes.

Active for Life (Transfer & Empowerment)

Students in Grade 9 (14-year-olds) and Grade 10 (15-year-olds) are provided opportunities to develop their physical literacy in the Active for Life stage during Physical & Health Education classes, during play, intramurals, and as part of school athletic teams. This stage is focused on the transfer and empowerment of movement capabilities into physical activity outside of the school setting. Within the Canadian Sport for Life LTAD framework, everyone will arrive at Active for Life at some point. Having built a solid foundation in the first three stages of the framework, individuals may progress to playing the sport or sports of their choice for enjoyment, satisfaction or for the health benefits they obtain. Some individuals may compete in organized sports, while others may not (Higgs, Way,  et al., 2019). It is our hope that when students complete their compulsory Physical & Health Education careers in Grade 10 that they are able to perform, adapt and improvise movement skills, and combinations of skills to perform movements across a range of physical activity contexts. They should be able to design and implement a strength and conditioning program to support their own or others healthy, active lifestyle. They will be able to transfer and adapt tactics and strategies according to purpose to participate successfully in a range of physical activities, reflecting on and creating new plans that take into account a number of variables such as their own and oppositions strengths. We hope they will seek to engage in physical activities regardless of previous experience or success, and advocate for and positively influence the physical activity experiences of others in their community. While these may seem like ambitious goals for a 16-year-old, we believe that any student who completes our Physical & Health Education program from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 10 should have the capability of meeting these goals.

What about Athletics?

At Meadowridge School, the Competitive for Life stages of Learn To Train, Train to Train and Train to Compete are the responsibility of our Gryphon Athletics program. Interscholastic sports are an integral part of Meadowridge’s educational program and they support the school’s mission and vision. In Part Five of this blog series I will share how our Athletics program supports the work we are doing to enable students to live well.

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Nathan Horne is a physical educator, currently based in British Columbia, Canada where he works as PHE Department Head at Meadowridge School. Nathan is also the founder of iPhys-Ed.com. Be sure to never miss out on any of iPhys-Ed.com’s future posts by connecting with us via TwitterFacebookYoutube or Instagram. Nathan can be contacted on Twitter @PENathan.


Bell-Laroche, D. (2008). Maximizing the Sport Experience for our Children, Retrieved from https://sportforlife.ca/portfolio-view/maximizing-the-sport-experience-for-our-children 

Developing Physical Literacy – Building a New Normal for all Canadians – Sport for Life. (2019). Retrieved November 25, 2019, from https://sportforlife.ca/portfolio-view/developing-physical-literacy-building-a-new-normal-for-all-canadians

Higgs, C. Way, R. Harber, V. Jurbala, P. Balyi, I. (2019).  Long-Term Development In Sport and Physical Activity 3.0. Sport For Life, 1-45.

McLennan, N. & Thompson, J. (2015). Quality Physical Education (QPE). Guidelines for policy-makers. Paris, France: UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002311/231101E.pdf 

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