“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr. Seuss
“Going, going, going… ALL. DAY. LONG!”
Oh the years of 5-6! Abounding energy at a level that could power New York City, as my husband and I often joke about our youngest, is flowing through these incredible youngsters from sun up to sundown… And sometimes even beyond! If you have recently experienced some crazy nighttime storms in your neck of the woods and the accompanying middle of the night pounce into your bed, you may know all too well that these “energizer bunnies” can even kick, punch, roll, flip and flop in their sleep too!
5-6 year olds while abounding in energy physically generally also find themselves entering into what Psychologist, Jean Piaget, classified as the “Pre-operational Stage” of their intellectual development; a season of language development, the emergence of symbolic play, development of the imagination and memory as well.
But what else is happening during these incredible years of life physically and intellectually?
5-6 Year Old’s: Physical Development
During the years of five and six, children’s physical growth tends to be slower when compared to their earlier years. Gross and fine motor skills are strengthening but still not yet perfected. Further, muscle strength remains underdeveloped thus creating difficultly to control one’s balance and endurance level.
At this stage of our children’s physical development, we tend to see:
· Their bodies and spirits in a constant state of motion!
· Difficulty in sitting still or hitting the breaks when they are in motion.
· Restlessness of body and spirit.
But why? Because 5-6 year old’s tend to live entirely in the moment, without care or concern, worry or anxiety as we might see at higher levels in older adolescence, teens and adults.
Further, did you know that 5-6 year old’s tend to breathe with greater ease? This constant fresh and full oxygen supply pulses through their bodies creating a greater, more accessible supply of accessible energy from the inside out.
5-6 Year Old’s: Intellectual Development
At this age and stage of development, children though expanding their knowledge and corresponding vocabulary base, still often think faster than they can form accurate, accompanying words to speak. Further, because 5-6 year old’s tend to be on-the-go nonstop, it is difficult for them to focus in the moment and absorb all of the information given to them.
Because this age groups vocabulary is still blossoming and their ability to focus is challenged at times, retaining information, processing three or more commands given can be difficult.
Knowing what we know about the physical and intellectual stages of development for 5-6 year olds, how are our team of Pediatric Ninja Specialists supporting children on and beyond the mats to flourish in these areas?
1. Develop Control
a. By having our ninjas actively exercise control of their physical bodies through the power of play, we are simultaneously developing their ability to exercise their control of mind as well:
1. “Eyes on, ears on, Ninja antennas up!” This is our go-to prompt before breaking down a new game or drill to bring our friends back to attention, to center to be able to receive instruction. If they are still running around without eyes on teachers eyes, then we know they are not yet ready to receive new information.
2. When giving the directions of a new game/SKILLZ drill, we have key “call-back” words we encourage the friends to echo back to us.
3. By having them slow down to echo what we are saying, we are not only engaging their auditory processing but their intellectual thought processing as well.
4. Further, when it is then their turn in line to do the drill, we are encouraging the deep breath, the slowing down, the thought before action to be able to execute the punch, the kick, the block, etc. with purposeful intention.
2. Develop Endurance
a. Not only through the Basic SKILLZ Fitness Stripe do we focus on building physical endurance but we encourage mental endurance in every class experience as well! Through the exercise of performing activities that require the involvement of multi-step directions and/or a sequence of movements, we are building not only muscle memory but intellectual memory abilities too.
3. Encouraging Skill Development
a. By immersing your child in safe and supportive environments, they are able to learn, grow and mature in their ability to listen, to focus, to concentrate and ultimately flourish! Through the intentional practice of
engaging the youth mind in Neurobics, brain exercises to enhance its overall output and performance, in addition to the use of Teaching SKILLZ like Trickery, we are helping to develop the skills above in an impactful way both on and beyond the mats!
Every part of why we do what we do is with the purposeful intention of ensuring the whole mind, body and spirit of your child is supported.
Have more questions regarding the physical and intellectual development of 5-6 year olds? Our team is standing by to help answer them along with any tips of personal support you may be needing beyond the mats.
We are honored to walk alongside you in the journey and encourage your open communication with us so we can be of best support to you and your Ninja! It takes a village to raise a child. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of the tribe that cheers your family on every step of the way.
For martial arts programs specializing in martial arts for children, please visit: https://www.ata-bba.net/program/transported-after-school/ OR visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mcdonoughata.
Visit our website for more information on kids martial arts programs.