When coaching four to six year olds, it can be a very daunting one for children as they take some of their first steps into playing sport with others, as well as being taught by a coach.
Firstly, to understand how you will approach coaching these age groups it is important to understand how children are developing during these age groups. Here’s some of the main areas for you to consider:

Emotions and Behaviour 

During these age groups children will begin to become more expressive of their emotions as they begin to be able to verbalise how they’re feeling. As a result, there can be a growing sense of independence as it become clearer what children like and want to do. Initially, controlling their emotions can be difficult but as they become older this is something that becomes a lot easier to be able to. In turn, children will begin to be more empathetic of others and will start to understand how their choices can impact on the feelings of other children.

Learning and Playing 

Children will begin to start grasping the basic concepts of game and will explore new ways of playing. At these age groups, children will show their creativity and look to play ‘fantasy’ games as well as role modelling others to play. Co-operative play also becomes more prevalent as children begin to interact with others, express their thoughts and the grasp the concept of sharing. Some children during this period will also build the understanding of winning and may pursue the feeling of winning at the detriment of others. Children will engage with learning, however, will be impatient and short and achievable tasks are a great way of introducing play into any type of game/play.

Physical Development 

Children will start developing their motor skills and their capacity to move in different ways. This is a stage of development where children will begin to explore how to use their bodies to move as well as start loosing control of how to move their bodies as well. At these ages, children should have sufficient gross motor skills, here’s an example of the types of movements children will now begin to be able to perform: run, walk, climb, kick, run and dance.
So, how do we approach creating an environment for children to begin playing?

Play 

When working with children within your environment, it is important to understand the types of play children will really engage with and benefit from. At these ages, the growing sense of independence as well as the ability to control emotions and be empathetic with others as well as move their body in different ways means you can be really creative as coach to get them to engage and learn through play. Some of the ways of allowing children  explore play within your environment may consist of children being able to play independently, by providing them with equipment and an area for them to explore how they can use it by themselves but also with others. Another way will be providing children with a task and challenging them on completing it i.e. can you score a goal with all the different types of balls? By creating fun, simple and engaging games that can challenge children is the way to go and you’ll need lots of them to be ready if a child wants to move on from that game onto another!

Top Tips

  • Create fun, simple and engaging games and tasks for the children to explore.
  • Allow for children to play independently as well as work collaboratively with others.
  • Provide a whole range of different equipment and objects for them to explore how to use i.e. different types of balls, cones, goals, hurdles, ladders etc.
  • Recreate the play ground (use obstacle courses and be willing to allow the children to play freely)
  • Between these age groups, so much can vary in individuals development and how they behave, so be able to adapt and cater for each individual.
  • Small groups, more attention.
  • Fantasy play, recreate games and tasks where children can be someone/something different.
  • Be creative and have fun with it!