As children grow and develop, different aspects of their physical, emotional and mental selves require development. To help children reach their
full potential, it is important to recognise the child’s developmental needs and abilities. To be effective, after school activities should help
children with tasks they must accomplish during each stage of development.
A child’s growth curve can be divided into three main sections:
1) Very young child (ages 3-5)
2) Young child (ages 6-8)
3) Older child (ages 9-12)
The four important domains of development are: Physical, social, emotional and intellectual. Each of these domains needs to be individually addressed during the different phases of a child’s development. After school activities should concentrate on developing each domain depending on the age of the child. Although the children participating in these activities may have similar developmental requirements and ages, do not assume development will be at the same pace. Youngsters will develop as and when they are ready.
When kids are very young, they want to perfect skills that they have just developed. For example, combining a variety of movements such as jumping, catching and throwing can really satisfy them. The young child (ages 6-8), on the other hand, wants to learn more complicated skills and get involved in competitive or team sports. This is also the best time to learn about rules and discipline in sport. The older child is ready for more ‘grown up’ activities that need more structure and discipline, for example, gymnastics, music, dance, etc.
Very young children are watching others and will show interest in games where they play the roles of family members. They develop short-term friendships and require an adult’s presence to assure them. The young child is intrigued by society and will really enjoy trips to public buildings, factories,
and so on. They want to learn the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of things. The older child is ready to discover about different cultures, cuisines and customs.
Very young children will practice and showcase what they are learning. Young children want to develop further skills and will show interest in reading,
drama and problem solving. The older children are ready to research and question things. They will enjoy figuring out puzzles for example.
All after school programs need to address the interests of the children depending on the category they belong to. Knowing the children in your program and appreciating their individual needs and interests will help surpervisors to plan and structure programs that will be optomised to benefit group.