Every day children are faced with increased amounts of pressure to work harder, learn more quickly, and manage their emotions. This is especially true for 10 to 14-year olds due to their intellectual growth during this period. However, this pressure is unhealthy for them and can lead to anxiety and depression.
The premise of the game show “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?” tells us that children at this age are extremely smart. Along with that, their critical thinking skills are top-notch. The downfall to this age group’s intellect is that their decision-making skills are the exact opposite. Their physical abilities are also great but 10 to 14-year olds tend to be lazy which leads to sloppiness. Children at this age are all over the emotional spectrum and they care about what their peers think.
Because their abilities at this age, as well as societal and academic pressures, play is often put on the back burner as a learning resource. However, as Diane Ackerman said, “Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” This holds true for 10 to 14-year olds. The problem is that education reform has taken the excitement and creativity from the classroom for pre-teens and teens.
For this reason, a program with a foundation of a game-based learning approach is extremely important. This method gets them excited about learning, so they put forth more effort. It also requires that they pay attention to detail and react to obstacles with determination.
With the SIDEKICKS program, 10 to 14-year olds are challenged so that they can establish a foundation of extreme skill development. The 4-dimensional approach to instruction that is used in every class benefits the student by focusing on all stages of their current development. They are encouraged to demonstrate dexterity and strength on small details, apply focus and versatility, show good decision-making skills and effort, and show maturity when working with peers.
For example, in the drill “Forms Tag” students are partnered up and are asked to run through their form. When the instructor says “tag” the other partner must take over and finish the form from that point. During this drill, the students must begin the form and focus on applying energy and strength to each move in an effort to demonstrate dexterity to small details. This helps with their physical development because it decreases sloppiness in their forms. Intellectually this assists their development by having them apply focus and precision so that they don’t hold back on challenges that they find too easy or too hard. Emotionally, they develop better decision-making skills when put under the pressure to execute proper reaction. And by working with a partner, the students are learning to show maturity when working with a peer and take praise and recognition when they are doing well.
When 10 to 14-year olds participate in programs or activities that include game-based learning, they continue to develop at a rapid rate in all four stages of development. A well-rounded program that makes learning fun helps children build confidence and trust in the learning process, while minimizing anxiety. This fusion of learning and fun makes children become passionate for lifelong learning.