The Stages of Development for Children Ages 3 to 19

Stages of Development

Children learn and grow in stages. It is hard to pinpoint the exact ages and stages of development because some children either accelerate compared to their peers or are growing at a slower pace than normal.

However, I’ve been studying child development for nearly two decades and have narrowed child growth and development into five age groups.

The five age groups are:

  • 3 and 4-year olds
  • 5 and 6-year olds
  • 7 to 9-year olds
  • 10 to 14-year olds
  • 15 to 19-year olds

Within each age group, children show growth and development in four main categories.

The four categories are:

  • Physical
  • Intellectual
  • Emotional
  • Social

Within each category, children show distinct characteristics that define their stage of development. That is where Martial Arts instructors can help. They can help a child foster proper growth and development. If you as an instructor can understand what to expect – and – what not to expect in each category, you can help them learn and grow in a more age-appropriate manner.

Instructor who understands Stages of Development

At the same time, if a Martial Arts instructor can utilize “skills” to help children learn and grow, then they will foster their training in a more productive manner.

Children love to learn, but sometimes they are not aware that they are in fact building skills. Therefore, it is important that Martial Arts instructors recognize what skills children are building and at what age and at which stages of development.

For example:

  • Early SKILLZ: Children between the ages of 3 and 4 are building early fundamental skills necessary to participate in sports. Those early skills are: kicking, punching, blocking, crawling, hopping, running, rolling, and catching. These gross motor skills will help them build the muscles needed to apply to the fundamental skills of the Basic SKILLZ program.
  • Basic SKILLZ: Children between the ages 5 and 6 are now building more fundamental skills. Those basic skills are: focus, teamwork, control, memory, balance, discipline, fitness, and coordination. Because the average child within this age group does not yet have proper development of these skills, they tend to struggle in traditional Martial Arts training. That’s why we have them separated from older children and provide them with their own curriculum that targets their stage of development.
  • Core SKILLZ: Children between the ages of 7 to 9 are building core fundamental skills. Those core skills are: agility, technique, courage, intensity, flexibility, perseverance, speed, and concentration. Because the average child within this age group does not yet have proper development of these skills, they also tend to struggle in traditional Martial Arts training. That’s why we also have them separated from older children and provide them with their own curriculum that targets their stage of development.
  • Extreme SKILLZ: Children between the ages of 10 to 14 are now in a stage where they can build extreme skills. Those extreme skills are: dexterity, reaction, versatility, momentum, precision, instinct, strength, and vision. These skills are dynamic and fun – yet at the same time require maturity and talent.
  • SKILLZ Signature: Teens between the ages of 15 to 19 are in a stage where they are capable of more intellectual & physical applications. Those skills are: force, sharpness, endurance, quickness, creativity, cadency, synching, and performance. This program targets their stage of development in a way that makes training fun while challenging them in the right areas.

More About Stages of Development

Be on the lookout for upcoming content that includes the common characteristics of the average child within each category. These characteristics are also common amongst children that are not in Martial Arts, so a clear understanding of the stages of development can benefit every coach, parent, or teacher.

With this information, you will understand exactly how the Martial Arts help children and why age-appropriate training based on the kids’ stages of development is so effective.


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About the Author:

Picture of Melody Johnson

Melody Johnson

Melody Johnson is the founder of SKILLZ Worldwide and the creator of the SKILLZ Child Development curriculum that uses martial arts as a vehicle for helping kids become their best selves physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially.

The very first of its kind, SKILLZ is endorsed by some of the nation’s leading child psychologists, including the late Dr. Ruth Peters. Currently, there are over 1100 licensed SKILLZ schools on almost every continent.

Melody resides in St. Petersburg Florida. She has a young son named Van.