Soccer Shots: Parent Expectations Re: Ages + Stages

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Alyssa McGarigal, MA, PPSC, Program Director

As an educator, one of the most common conversations I have with families center around what is “expected” for certain ages and stages of development.

(Don’t get me wrong, as a parent I find myself having this conversation with myself too!)

My child is throwing cones… Is this supposed to happen?

She seems scared to play with the group… Why?

He doesn’t seem like he enjoys the scrimmage… What should I do?

So much of what we see (and do) at Soccer Shots centers around the developmental ages and stages of the children. With expert designed curriculum that put this at the forefront, we are infusing developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) into everything we do.

What does that actually mean? What are the ages and stages? What can I expect from my child at Soccer Shots?

All great questions!

In our Mini (2 year old) sessions, we offer a basic introduction to soccer and character concepts. More than that, we’re building motor skills by running, hopping, sorting, stacking, and kicking. Social and emotional skills are developed listening to and following directions, going on very basic imaginary adventures, and playing along side others. It’s important to note that at this age, we expect children to engage in solitary or parallel play. This means we expect each child to come to the field and play on their own, in a group. Running away and testing boundaries is expected, as is some resistance to change (i.e. a brand new activity like soccer). Our hope and goal for this age group is that they have fun, run, kick, laugh, and develop a young love for being outdoors engaging in physical activity.

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Soccer Shots Classic (3-5 year old) sessions are a little different. At this age, we’re focused on introducing more soccer specific skills that continue to develop and refine motor skills, as well as infusing social/emotional learning (character development) into the curriculum. At the younger end of this age group, children are still engaging in parallel play, testing the boundaries, learning about their own capabilities, and are eager to help and succeed. Towards the latter end of this age group, we start to see cooperative play (group play) emerge, as well as the desire to please and follow the rules. Imagination continues to develop, and we use this to our advantage; our curriculum is loaded with imaginary scenarios and lots of fun! Self-awareness begins to develop as well, and we can see this sometimes in the hesitancy to try something new (for fear of failure). Other times we see the highly social, overly talkative confidence prominently. All of this is totally expected for this age group, understood by our team of coaches, and incorporated into the way we approach each session.

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The social aspect of youth sports and activities begins to take center stage in our 5-6 year old Premier sessions. Is your child waving to you instead of listening to coach or chasing the ball? (Yup! That was me as a child too!) That’s totally expected at this age. This age group begins to understand and appreciate cooperative play, taking turns and following the rules. They also feel pride in their accomplishments, enjoy having basic responsibility, and may get excited to show off a new move or two! Ask them to teach you what they’ve learned, and they’ll eagerly oblige. As physical confidence develops, so does intellectual ability. We continue to have intentional conversations around social/emotional development and aim to create positive feelings associated with physical activity. Even as competitiveness emerges, we teach winning and losing in a constructive way that builds everyone up, rather than tearing ourselves or others down.

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Any questions we didn’t answer? Let us know! Or speak directly to your child’s coach, many of which have received collegiate level child development units and have training from Soccer Shots on the ages and stages!

Source: Child Development Institute, 2015, General Developmental Sequence Toddler through Preschool (https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-development/devsequence/#.WObS4FKZOV4)