Have you ever taken a moment to truly admire the incredible beauty of watching a child at play? Their fully engaged spirit, drive, imagination, and passion are all completely engaged in the mission of the moment.
Whether it’s tinkering with their next greatest creation or saving the day as their favorite superhero, children demonstrate freely and without any reservations, the power of playing with purpose!
How true! As parents, teachers, and coaches, we each have an incredible opportunity to enter each and every day into the world of a child, meeting them exactly where they are at in their own unique phase and stage of development.
But what are “phases and stages of development” you may ask? That’s a great question!
Stages Of Development
Child development experts in the specialized fields of science and psychological study have uncovered the physical, intellectual, emotional, and social characteristics of adolescents at different ages and stages of their development.
From this great body of research, SKILLZ Worldwide founder Melody Johnson, and her passionate team of Child Development Specialists, have been bringing firsthand experience, science, psychology, and proven best practices together to support the unique and critical aspects of a child’s holistic development.
By utilizing nurturing, age-specific curriculum purposefully designed to help a child grow, excel and exceed their developmental expectations, we are equipping children for bold, bright futures in their own distinct endeavors!
Let’s take a deeper dive into the purpose of age-specific play and consider two ends of this beautiful spectrum.
Imagine for a moment a three-year-old and a fourteen-year-old.
How a three-year-old plays vs. how a fourteen-year-old plays is quite different and understandably so! Developmentally each is in different seasons of life.
The three-year-old for example is far more engaged in parallel play or mimicking and mirroring behaviors they have seen rather than engaging naturally in back-and-forth play.
Further down the developmental path, the fourteen-year-old is far more inclined to be exploring the ever-changing dynamics of their own social network. With their eyes wide open, they step with great intention and interest and seek and value the thoughts and feelings of their peers more than those of their parents.
As the mind, body, and spirit of a child continue to grow and develop, so too does their level of meaningful interaction with peers, individuals outside of their core family influence.
But what happens when play does not come naturally to a child?
How to Support Play
How can we as Proud Ninja Parents support and encourage our children in experiencing the power of purposeful play? The answer is by taking action in these three areas:
- Creating time and space for purposeful play.
- Setting up a play date.
- Leveraging expert guidance.
Creating time and space for purposeful play.
By setting time aside to practice back-and-forth play with your child you are helping them understand the boundaries and expectations of appropriate play with peers. Schedule this time like you would an appointment and be totally engaged and focused on your child.
Modeling expected and unexpected behaviors that may arise when playing tag with your six-year-old, for example, is a wonderful way to help your child know what to expect when spontaneous play occurs.
While tag may not be the go-to game with your teen anymore, there are ways to connect with them in play as well. Consider asking them what adventure they would like to take with you today!
Connection and attunement to the needs and desires of your teen are just as vital and important as they were when they were young.
Setting up a play date.
For parents with little ones just beginning to explore the power of play, speak with a trusted fellow parent whose child may be a great role model for your child to help them develop deeper connections outside of the home.
Prior to the play date, decide on the activities that should be based on hands-on, purposeful play.
Maybe you’ll start at the park with some parallel swing time to break the ice, allowing your child and their new friend to settle in. From there, perhaps a friendly game of “Alligator,” a recognizable game from SKILLZ Class that would involve both parents and children in the special playtime:
- When I say “go” you will race around the play area trying not to get eaten by the hungry alligators.
- When I say “island” you will race to the nearest island, which is one of the objects in the play area.
- If you get bitten by an alligator, you must go to the side and do 10 jumping jacks and then you can get back on the mat.
As your time together progresses and they become more familiar with each other, give them space and time for personal exploration amongst themselves, keeping a watchful eye from a distance to prompt and redirect them as needed.
Remember, play dates certainly do not need to be elaborate, expensive excursions. Some of the best play times you can have with your child and their friends are the simplest, organic, and engaging kind!
Leverage expert guidance.
Consider connecting with Master Ribeiro, who has raised two daughters and who is trained in assessing and supporting age-specific physical, intellectual, emotional, and social stage of development in children.
Master Ribeiro, a Child Development Specialist can help assess your child’s unique strengths and challenges. This will allow you to make decisions that will support your child in areas where they need help most. After the assessment, he will provide ideas and actionable steps and support and together you will develop a plan specific to your child and their needs to nurture your child’s developmental growth.
As they say, it takes a village to raise a child and we would be honored to be a part of your family’s amazing story! Don’t hesitate to connect with us because we are here to support you every step of the way in your journey to parenting with purpose. In our village we strive to create an environment that allows children to:
Play with purpose.
Learn and grow.
Be supported and nurtured.
Be surrounded by a tribe of people who love me more than I know!
If your child needs help with building relationships through meaningful play, then a powerful child development program like our Early SKILLZ program, which uses science and psychology in a fun, martial-arts-themed environment, might be exactly the thing to help your child grow physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially.
To apply for our program and schedule your child’s free evaluation and trial, click the button below: