So far on this blog I've mentioned a few times how important it is for instructors to understand the stages of development for younger students.
I've decided to put together a series of posts about each stage of development for children. This is the third post of the series. If you missed the previous posts, check them out here...
How Martial Arts Enhances Your Child's Stage of Development: Part 1
How Martial Arts Enhances Your Child's Stage of Development: Part 2
How Martial Arts Enhances Your Child's Stage of Development: Part 3
This week, we are focusing on 7-9 year olds!
This age group is in 2nd-4th grade. This is an interesting age because children are transitioning from being a little kid into adolescence.
Now, you may remember from my last post that children develop in four distinct categories: Physically, Intellectually, Emotionally, and Socially.
I'm going to break down each category for you. This way, you'll know exactly what to expect from your child and see how martial arts can help foster proper development for your child.
Here we go!
7-9 year olds should be very comfortable with gross motor functions and basic skill. So, this age group is where children develop the beginning stages of fine motor skills and dexterity.
You can expect children at this age to be able to perform most physical tasks, such as riding a bike, hitting a baseball, or throwing out a side kick. But, it's expected that they will still struggle with some of the fine details that they need to master each skill.
At TMAC, we have a series of exercises called "forms." Forms are basically a series of movements, representing an imaginary fight. If you've never seen form before check out this video below...
Forms are one of the best ways to help children focus on developing dexterity, precision, agility and balance. And they are unique to the martial arts!
Speech pattern and communication are well developed at this age. 7-9 year olds start to think more logically and understand reasoning. However, they are still not fully developed cognitively. Typically, a 7-9 year old will still struggle with distractions.
In martial arts, we use combination techniques to help develop focus and eliminate distractions. During combinations, an instructor will call out a series of commands in Korean. Then, when the instructor yells, the students step forward and perform the techniques.
What makes combinations so great for getting rid of distractions is something that we at TMAC call "Think Fast, Do Fast." What this means is that students are expected to listen, process information and perform in a very short time frame.
Eliminating the amount of processing time also eliminates the chance for distractions! The result is a child who stays focused, even under stressful situations.
Luckily, 7-9 year olds are in this great emotional sweet spot. They are very in tune with their emotions. They have increased emotional stability. They deal with challenges much better than their younger counter parts. Also, aren't overly self conscious yet!
What this means is they are ready to learn and read to work hard. It's easy to help this age group develop intensity, effort and perseverance through challenges. Through all of this, children start to learn how to be brave and courageous, which I'm sure every parent wants for their child!
As a martial arts instructor, this is the age group where I focus on internal motivation rather than external. At earlier ages, I might ask students to try their best to make their parents proud. But, at 7-9 years old, students can learn to be self motivated and accomplish goals to make themselves proud.
If you remember last weeks blog, then you remember that 5 and 6 year olds love to cheat. 7-9 year olds, on the other hand, have a well developed sense of structure and rules. So, they love to point out when OTHER people cheat! In fact, they will get very frustrated whenever they experience something that isn't right in their eyes.
Now, this doesn't mean that they are trying to be negative towards whoever they point out for being wrong. It's just that at this age, they understand the difference between right from wrong. But, they have a hard time seeing the gray area in between.
When a child points out that someone cheated, or that something isn't fair, it's important to acknowledge their feelings. But, it's also important to explain when it's appropriate to voice these observations and when it is impolite.
Want more great information about how your child develops as they grow?
Check back next week for part four, where I'll be concluding my series on childhood development with...
10-14 Year Olds!
Traditional Martial Arts Center