While I was playing the adult version of 'dodge ball' (Play Ground Duty) this week, I observed some interesting behaviours from the primary school aged children and how they played sport, primarily rugby. It got me thinking about when the right time is to introduce goal achieving programs to them.
When should a child start their goal setting journey?
In short, my opinion is that a child's goal achieving mindset is very much akin to their ability to play team sports. There are a number of factors that need to come together to open up the door to chasing greatness.
When they are young, they chase the ball around in a wild bunch without any level of forethought or anticipation. A small boy playing rugby will run in a big backwards arc away from the defence in order to find some space and a short-lived sense of security ('I'm safe from the chasing pack!').
More often than not, at least one enthusiastic young defender will chase him along the same backward arc, in the hope of catching his prey. At this early age, it does not dawn on the chaser to anticipate his opponents movements and cut across field to head him off. He is simply consumed by the chase.
As a child grows his spatial awareness improves, as does his ability to make logical links between what he should do to survive and what he can do to be successful. That sounds a little too ‘deep’ when you relate it to a children playing sport but essentially it's true - 'If I catch him, I have done what I set out to do' as opposed to 'If I head across field I will catch him as well as saving energy and time'.
There will come a time in a child’s development when he realises he can cover half the distance by running diagonally across a pitch and still catch his prey. This is the time when he also has the ability to understand that goal setting and goal achieving is a similar process. If a student can develop the right mindset, set an accurate direction and then following through on a plan of action - they will always catch what they are chasing!