Below you will find a list of characteristics that are common
to children in five age-graded levels. Please remember, however, that children
develop at their own pace, and all characteristics will not be observed in all
children at the same age or in the same grade. But you should find this outline
helpful as you work with youth of different ages.
Grades K - 2
- Short attention spans make "hands-on" activities
a must for this grade level. Activities divided into small pieces or steps
with physical activitiy in between work best.
- Very concrete thinkers and do best with activities in
which they are both doing and seeing things.
- Have a strong need to feel accepted and have adult approval.
Adults should provide lots of praise and encouragement for even small successes.
- Cannot separate themselves from the project or activities
and view any evaluation as a reflection on themselves. Therefore, avoid competitition
or activities that select a single winner or best person.
- Enjoy working in small grounds with plenty of adult attention.
- Both boys and girls are usually more concerned wih the
"doing of a project" rather than the completion and/or comparison
of a project. Select activities that can be completed successfully by the
- Active, full of energy, and anything but quiet. Activities
should encourage physical involvement.
- Interests may change often, jumping from one thing to
another. Activities divided into small pieces or steps work best.
- Fairly concrete thinkers and tend to be more attentive
if they have an opportunity for hands-on learning (seeing and doing, rather
than just listening).
- Just beginning to think logically and symbolically and
are beginning to understand abstract ideas. As they consider an idea, they
think it is either right or wrong, fun or boring (very little middle ground).
- Look for adult approval and have a strong need to feel
accepted and worthwhile. Adults should provide lots of encouragement and recognize
even small successes.
- Individual evaluation is preferred over group competition.
Instead of comparing success with others, youngsters prefer to know how much
they have improved and what they should do to be better next time. They are
easily embarrassed about doing either better or worse than their friends.
- Beginning to move out of the stage in which the satisfaction
of completing a project often comes from pleasing the leader or parent rather
than from the value of the activity itself.
- Growth spurts may begin at this age, with girls maturing
faster than boys. These rapid changes may make some teens uncomfortable with
their changing body images.
- As puberty approaches, a roller coaster ride of hormones
and emotions begins, presenting a major challenge to a young person's self
- Faced with so many changes they hardly know who they
are. They begin to test values and identities and seek adults who are accepting
and willing to talk about values and morals.
- Desiring a sense of independence from parents, they are
concerned about being liked by friends. Opinions of peers become more important
than opinions of parents and other adults in the areas of dress, music, and
- Moving from concrete to more abstract thinking. Ready-made
solutions from adults are often rejected in favor of finding their own solutions.
Small groups provide an opportunity to test ideas.
- Adults should continue to avoid comparing young people
with each other, being careful not to embarrass them. They want to be part
of something that is important and that provides an opportunity to develop
- Tend to be very concerned with themselves and their peer
group. Relationship skills become a priority. Many begin dating, and acceptance
by members of the opposite sex may become important.
- Since many are becoming aware of their own special abilities
and talents, this is a good time for introducing them to leadership roles.
- As they begin to think about the future and make realisitc
plans, their vocational goals often influence the activities they select.
- Mastering abstract thinking, they imagine new ways of
doing things that sometimes challenge adults.
- Set their goals based on feelings of personal need and
priorities. Any goals set by others are likely to be rejected.
- Can initiate and complete tasks without supervisions.
Leader's role should be that of advisor/coach.
- Finishing up high school and moving on towards college,
job, or marriage.
- Future plans are important as they begin making the transition
to adult life. Their goals for the future influence which activities they
- In most cases, they determine their own schedule and
only general directions are needed when they are assigned familiar tasks.
- Close relationships develop as they become preoccupied
with their need for intimacy.
- Make and carry out serious decisions, but still need
adults for support and guidance.
- Adults no longer control activities, but should serve
as resource people, helping to stimulate teens' thoughts.
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