Wednesday, March 28, 2007

JT's Blog - Describe in detail “Developmentally Appropriate” - March 28

JT's Blog will be a weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. John Thomas "JT" is the Assistant Director of Coaching Education for US Youth Soccer.

Brandi Niolon, a coach who attended the National Youth License Course in February, had this to say about developmentally appropriate.

It is a term that is used quite often in education and childcare. It means to take into account the level of physical, social, emotional and intellectual development of a child.

In other words, we should be concerned with the “whole child”. Every child advances in these different areas at his or her own rate and the range of these rates can be rather broad at any given age. This is very important to the growth of the child. The use of this term in sports is a fairly new, but welcome change.

Participation in sports has expanded at enormous rates and for children of increasingly younger ages. It is crucial for coaches and administrators to understand the patrons they serve.

While there is no one right way to care for children, there are guidelines that focus on how a child develops and the care that is appropriate at various stages. These guidelines help teachers, child care providers, coaches and parents understand ways to care for children while helping them develop positive self-esteem.

The common thread in what is coined as developmentally appropriate is an understanding that each child is unique and that each child's experiences should match his or her development abilities. Children learn best through hands on experiences. This can be demonstrated easily through sports.

It is the responsibility of the coach, teacher, child care provider and parent to ensure that each child participated in developmentally appropriate activities. These activities should acknowledge both the age and the individual needs of each child. The idea is that the program should fit the child; the child shouldn't have to fit the program!

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