You are here

Growth and Development Considerations

Please note that for all ages, the emphasis should be on fun primarily through active free play and deliberate play. 

Junior (grades 3-6)

  • Children at this age tend to be most interested in joining an organized sport. Specializing in only one sport should not typically occur at this age.
  • Children at this age are particularly vulnerable to anxiety and being “put-down” (shamed); thus they need authentically affirming experiences.
  • Most children have mastered fundamental movement skills yet need to continue to refine their abilities like agility, balance, and coordination. Integrating fundamental movement skills into movement combinations (e.g., run, jump and throw) and dance, games, and gymnastics can be particularly useful.

Intermediate (grades 7-9)

  • Learners at this age can be highly different. For example, some are more physically mature than others (two years earlier on average for girls than boys).
  • Their self-esteem and mood can be particularly vulnerable during this developmental phase.
  • Interacting with and being accepted by peers becomes more important. 
  • The media (TV, social media, movies, magazines) can be particularly influential at this age.
  • Some might want to participate in organized sport emphasizing more deliberate (structured, goal-oriented) practice.  
  • Some choose to specialize in one or more sports. 
  • Try to minimize harmful social comparisons and discipline privately and relationally.
  • Maintaining positive (safe, trustworthy and open) relationships with significant others while maintaining appropriate independence is particularly important.

Senior (grades 10-12)

  • Students’ movement, values and interests are more personal and specialized at this age. Their capability to access activities more independently (access to transportation) also increases.
  • Their schedule often becomes busier with work, school and other commitments so many tend to become more anxious about the future and less physically active.   
  • Some choose to participate in organized (highly structured) team sport although most begin to prefer recreational, sport, and/or adventure activities that they can perform on their own or in small groups.
  • Students may desire to regularly assess their level of fitness and maintain personal physical literacy or wellness contracts with specific short- and long-term goals.
  • Participating with peers can enhance motivation and accountability for maintaining goals.
  • It may be important for this age group to maintain or rediscover the joys of unstructured play.