I am loving school but I have to say I was really surprised to learn the amount of physical skills that parents need to teach their children before age 7 to give them their best start.  I’m not talking about putting them in elite soccer or getting them on skates before they can walk (though skating is a part of it) I’m talking about basic movement patterns.

These movements include:

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Balance
  • Skating/Skiing
  • Jumping
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Skipping
  • Throwing
  • Kicking
  • Striking
  • Catching Trapping

Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? But they don’t have to be experts at every skill, they just need to have a basic understanding of each physical skill. This sets them up for success in any future sport participation, PE class, and other physical activities.

Canadian Sport for Life has developed a wonderful skill checklist for parents that tells you the optimal age to begin work on each skill.

DPL Fig 5

When I saw this all I could think was “I need to tell everyone I know!” I never did any sports that involved another object and as an adult I really struggle with softball, basketball, and volleyball.

But this can sound really daunting can’t it? Life is so busy and you need to teach your kids twelve movement skills. But it’s not too hard. If you teach your children games that incorporate these skills they will practice on their own during free play. As a child I was in gymnastics and spent recess practising my balance and monkey bars. Children aged three to five years should be active for at least three hours throughout a day in structured activities and free play sessions. If you do a few structured activities that teach skills, they will repeat those skills when they are playing on their own.


I am not saying you need to put your child in a bunch of organized sports but rather instead of playing tag, play hopping tag to work on their jumping skills. Next time they want to play with a ball kick, throw, and catch it. Hit the rink! And spend your summers swimming. You’ll be setting your child up for success physically if you do.

DPL Figure 6 - positive

To read more about physical literacy and fundamental movement skills visit the Canadian Sport for Life website. 


  • Kaella On The Run February 10, 2016 at 9:54 am

    This is great!! I really try and be active with London so it’s nice to see I’m setting him up for success down the road!! 🙂

    • Betty Livin February 10, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Absolutely! I had no idea there were SO MANY physical skills we should be teaching our children at such a young age. I told my professor I had to share the information with everyone I knew.

  • Becky @ The Bex Factor February 10, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Love this! I definitely try to incorporate as much activity as possible with Liam and want him to experience lots of different organized classes to learn new skills AND find something he loves

    • Betty Livin February 10, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      Exactly! It’s all about learning those basic skills. They say kids shouldn’t specialize until 11 or 12 to avoid burn out and to ensure they have all the needed skills. I’m seriously loving my classes.

  • Brie @ A Slice of Brie February 10, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    I love this! I know a few kids who are older (10 and 14) and their lack of some of these skills is a bit appalling (like they don’t know how to kick a soccer ball or play catch). As a mom of an almost two year old, it’s so important to me that we set him up for success, especially since I played ALL the sports growing up. We’re in gymnastics right now and it’s so cool to see how quickly he improves each week, and then also which skills he does on his own at home.

    • Betty Livin February 11, 2016 at 6:28 am

      That’s great Brie! I know gymnastics is such a great way to help your child’s development but I never thought of things like catching and skating! This list was so long I just had to share it with all the parents I know. 🙂

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