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Understanding Stages of Development

By Melody Johnson - SKILLZ CEO

Many children's sports and activities put together training programmes that are presumed universal for all ages and abilities. The problem is that children learn and grow in different stages and in order to maximise learning and growing, the training regiments need to follow these guidelines accordingly.

I call these guidelines the 'Stages of Development.'

What are the Stages of Development?
Basically, it is the stages in which children learn and grow physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially. A great way to remember these 4 categories is by spelling out the first letter of each word. That spells PIES.

Breaking down the way children learn and grow in these four categories can dramatically increase the overall value of your children's classes.

I am going to provide you with some top example of the way children learn and grow starting at the age of 3 because most schools start with offering classes for kids starting at this age. When you think about it, a 3-year old is entering preschool. During pre-school they have low-tone in their muscles, so motor skills are weak but still strong enough for more independence. By the way, low-tone is the reason why many 3-year olds fall, can't sit still, and can't hold a punch out for more than a few seconds. They also have limited vocabulary hence they struggle with following directions that are beyond two or three commands. They also don't have good social skills, so structured team activities and partner drills can be very challenging. This carries on for 4-year olds as well.

Once they enter Key Stage 1 that's when they reach their next Stage of Development, which is at the age of 5. Their education is more structured. For example, this is where they learn how to read, which boosts their vocabulary. By the way, their vocabulary is nearly double that of a 3-year old's. With that said, they can focus on twice as many directions. They are also at the stage where they are developing social skills such as teamwork and discipline. This carries over to the Year 1, which is 6-year olds.

Then when they enter the Key Stage 2 at the age of 7, that's a whole new Stage of Development. This is where they are starting to write in cursive, so their technical skills are being developed. This is where they're now reading to learn new facts instead of reading to learn how to read, so their concentration skills are now at a much higher level. This carries through Years 3 & 4, which is your 8 and 9-year olds.

When they reach the Year 5, which is at 10-year olds, is when they enter the next Stage of Development. At this age, they are learning some extreme math, science, and reading skills, which means that their learning curve skyrockets and some would say their knowledge capacity is better than that of an adult. Their body is also going through some pretty extreme physical changes, so skills such as dexterity and versatility are becoming refined.

So, here's the breakdown of what most child experts agree are the best age groups to break down when targeting children's stages of development:
3 and 4-year olds (Pre-school)
5 and 6-year olds (KS1)
7 to 9-year olds (KS2)
10 to 14-year older (KS3)

Can you imagine a math teacher trying to teach 6-year olds and 10-year olds in the same class?
6-year olds are learning double-digit subtraction while 10-year olds are being introduced to Algebra. With the exception of anomalies, it's no wonder younger children drop out because the curriculum is too hard and older kids in the same class drop out because they lose interest since they are not being properly challenged.