By the time your child reaches elementary school you are probably thinking to yourself, “Wow! I can’t believe how fast they are growing!” If you need a bit of a break from their rapid changes here is your chance! During the school age (6-11 year olds) growth of all types slows down. At this stage your child is starting to stabilize. Their cognitive, social, and physical ability are not being introduced to new concepts; instead they are beginning to master their skills. How are these skills mastered? By play of course! A focus on games with structured rules is a large part of the logical skills children develop at this age.
The psychosocial developmental issue that occurs at this age is industry vs. inferiority and directed play has a correlated effect on this issue. Industry vs. inferiority has to do with competence and a shift to peer-approval. Sports are a great way to build industry in your child at this age. Sports are one of the best forms of directed play and teach rules and roles (positions). Team sports help develop friendships, language skills, and using multiple senses at once. By learning how to play a sport and abiding by the rules, industry begins to grow. Approval forms through a team effort. Making your child an endorser of confidence for other children as well!
Now, sports are not for every child, other activities that showcase a skill such as painting or acting can help develop industry, and but I highly recommend at least having your child attempt a sport, even if it is just for one season. This is because sports at this age are pure fun! It is not about winning or being on the best team. With a good coach and supportive teammates, industry can be built within a team even if their standings in the league resemble the beginning of The Bad News Bears. Inferiority comes from the idea of failure in competence. Losing a game does not create a sense of inferiority; but being blamed for the loss does.
Gaining a sense of industry is essential, as your child grows older. Industry helps to maintain self-esteem. All the skills that have been crafted in this life stage and the break from development are about to be thrown for a loop in the next life stage: adolescents. So, enjoy this age! Be supportive and build industry by encouraging directed structured play, but don’t forget to have those great undirected play moments together too!