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The Stages Of Becoming
Emotional Development
12 April 2024

The Stages of Becoming: Learning As Journey

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Risky Kids uses a process called “The Stages of Becoming” to predict motivation and obstacles during learning. By familiarising families with this process as well, we help them understand the ebbs and flows, and also how to confront these moments with our team to assist along the way.


Discover the structured stages of learning in “The Stages of Becoming: Learning As Journey,” where we explore the predictable yet challenging journey of growth every young learner undergoes. Join us as we dive deep into each stage, offering insights and practical guidance to help your Risky Kids achieve their full potential.

  • Learning is a predictable journey with stages each having unique challenges and growth opportunities.
  • Introduction of “Stages Of Becoming” series to explore each learning phase in-depth.
  • Novelty, Grasp, Associative, and Mastery stages described, each critical to developing resilience and skills.
  • Build understanding and involvement to navigate and support their child’s educational and personal development.

The Stages of Becoming: Learning As Journey

We’ve heard it all before, learning isn’t a straight line. It’s a journey with ups and downs. 

  • Learning is more than ups and downs; it’s a structured, predictable process.
  • “Stages Of Becoming” series explores each stage of a child’s learning journey.
  • Series aims to deeply understand and support young learners’ potential.

But there’s far more to it than just ups and downs, and it’s not something which is unpredictable either. At Risky Kids we’ve made it our mission to understand exactly how to help a young person to reach their full potential, and so we spend a lot of time studying and researching this journey.

This is the first in our series of articles on the Stages Of Becoming, an exploration of the process a young mind goes through when it’s learning something new, including when they’re joining Risky Kids! Each of the articles after this one will explore one of the stages in depth, including its challenges and its opportunities.

A Necessary Part of Learning

There’s predictable stages when it comes to learning and becoming skilled at something.

  • Understanding learning stages prepares us for challenges in educational journeys.
  • Recognizing dips in motivation as normal can prevent discouragement.
  • Guiding through tough times builds resilience and confidence in learners.

By knowing these stages and preparing ourselves, or our young Risky Kids, for them we can be forewarned and forearmed against the challenges ahead.

If we forget this, then when those challenges do emerge we can often feel that it’s not a planned part of the journey. For example, as a Risky Kid progresses through the early stages, motivation can be at its lowest as learning is at its hardest. This is a very necessary part of learning though, and if we don’t see this then we might believe instead that their loss of motivation is a bad or unexpected thing.

When we guide our young people through these moments though, they’ll learn from each step. They’ll develop resilience, self confidence and a host of other healthy and powerful skills and mindsets. That’s all on top of the skill they’re learning as well!

Stages of Becoming Graph

Stage 1 - Novelty

The Novelty Stage is the very first stage of learning. This is where everything is new and exciting!

  • Initial learning stages can be intimidating but quickly become exciting.
  • Rapid initial improvements occur as basics are mastered with engaged learning.
  • Novelty stage challenges include anxiety and attraction to newness.

Of course that can often be scary as well and we can feel anxious, but often we settle in quickly.

When we’re first learning, while we need a lot of help we often feel like we’re growing very quickly! We make large improvements quickly, because we’re mastering the basics. It takes a lot of concentration, but we’re interested and engaged in this new pursuit of learning. Also, we don’t really know what the difference is between us and an expert, and we might even feel it’s not going to be that hard to reach quickly!

The challenges that we often face in the Novelty stage are related to fixed mindsets or anxiety. If we’re not confident in ourselves and our ability to grow, then we might feel like there’s not a lot of hope or chance for us to develop. Just the same, if we’ve experienced a lot of new hobbies, programs or pursuits then we might find ourselves becoming attracted to novelty, and confuse newness with goodness.

Introducing Sam!

The Novelty Stage: Sam Joins Risky Kids

We’re going to explore the Stages of Becoming with Sam! Sam is a Risky Kid who’s just started with us at Club Earth. They were a bit nervous to begin with, but after a few sessions they’re going strong. They’re progressing through the Foundation and Alpha Core Program steps, learning Mindsets like Failure Isn’t Final and smashing the Monkey Bars. Some of the moves make them uncertain, but the Coaches are there to help. It’s highly likely though that Sam might start and want to stop quickly, this could be because very quickly the “newness” is lost and Sam has confused things being new with being valuable, or that Sam feels overwhelmed and wants to use avoidance. But in this case, Sam has worked through all that with her family and continues on!

Stage 2 - Grasp

The Grasp Stage is often the most challenging stage of learning, and where we see the most families and kids unenrol.

  • Grasp Stage follows mastering basics, challenging in piecing knowledge together.
  • Learning slows, errors are hard to identify, and failures can recur.
  • Learners feel embarrassed and frustrated, making feedback application difficult.

The adversity faced at this stage makes complete sense, but it’s crucial to overcome to reach the later stages.  It happens after we’ve mastered the basics and we’ve got a lot of the pieces, but before we know how they all go together.

When we’re at the Grasp Stage, our learning is often at its slowest, with small, infrequent improvements. Worse, we often have a lot of difficulty identifying our errors because we don’t know enough yet. We still need to focus really hard to succeed, and often as we try and take bigger steps, we fail at the basics which we thought we’d mastered!

This is an awkward time for learners, where they can find it difficult to apply feedback, their experience of failure is magnified and they begin to realise just how far from being an expert they are. Learners at this stage can feel embarrassed, impatient, frustrated and fatigued just to try and move the needle forwards a little bit.


Frustration, Challenge, Avoidance

The Grasp Stage: Sam Masters The Basics

Sam has moved on to the Alpha+ classes after a term and a bit and has mastered the basics. The expectations now are that the class can do the Moves without too many reminders of what they are, and the challenges are getting more complex. The chances of Sam wanting to quit at this point are really high, this is where a lot of families drop out of Risky Kids if they don’t know how to manage quitting behaviour. Sam might feel discouraged and like she’ll never get that fun feeling back from the first stage. But the family reaches out to their Coaches and they all work together to encourage Sam to persist.

Stage 3 - Associative

This next stage could actually be the very best stage, even better than once we’re a master.

  • Associative stage brings excitement, self-esteem, and connecting learned pieces.
  • Learners experience “Aha” moments, gaining confidence and skill proficiency.
  • Challenges include overcoming plateaus by embracing vulnerability and persistence.

It’s filled with excitement and growing pride and self esteem! It’s known as the Associative stage, because at this point we start to connect all of the pieces together and the pathway to success begins to emerge.

When a Learner begins to move through the Associative stage, they start to experience moments of clarity and success, “Aha” moments where things just start to click. This isn’t a coincidence though, they’ve been putting in the hard work and the time to make it happen! We’re becoming more confident, tougher and better at our chosen skill, and our self image begins to improve.

This can also be part of the challenge at this stage. In order to keep up momentum, we’re going to have to start to LET our self image be connected to this new skill. Lots of learners plateau at this stage, because to break past those plateaus means they have to let themselves be vulnerable. If we’ve done our work though, they can do that and even if they fail, they’ll be resilient enough to persist.

Persistence, Plateaus, Success

The Associative Stage: Sam Gains Self Confidence

Sam’s been working hard, and has now progressed through the Delta and is in the Delta+ program step. They’ve also signed up to the Future Leaders classes, helping other Risky Kids and challenging themselves on things like Public Speaking and Leadership. Sam has had a few moments, in particular mastering a Move called the “Cat Pass” where after a few weeks, there was an “Aha” moment while training and it all just clicked! Sam was really proud about this. Progress did slow down for a while, and Sam even considered leaving the program. Sam spoke to the Coaches about this feeling, and put in some extra Mindset training to break through the plateau and Sam realised they’d been holding back out of fear of failure, something they thought they’d left at the earlier stages!

Stage 4 - Mastery

Our final step is when we’ve pretty much become an expert!

  • Mastery requires years of persistent training to automate skills.
  • Masters confidently anticipate and effectively navigate challenges.
  • Continuous training is crucial to avoid complacency and skill loss.

This often takes years of training and persistence and hard work. We need to know heaps about our chosen skill, and not just know it but be able to use it automatically.

Our Masters have a great deal of confidence, and the experience to back it up. They can anticipate and visualise challenges, they navigate both physical and emotional challenges automatically and their responses are highly effective.

There is a chance though that our masters become complacent, or rigid! This is why continuous training and exploration is crucial, no matter the skill level. Even the youngest of our Risky Kids knows that Practice Makes Possible. If you don’t keep using your skills, you’ll lose them.

Intuition, Expertise, Focus

The Mastery Stage: Sam Becomes An Expert

Sam has achieved so much in their time at Risky Kids, having progressed from Foundation to Ultra+, having become a Future Leader and assisted in classes and participated in a whole bunch of social projects including volunteering at an animal shelter as part of the Leadership Program. Sam’s confidence and resilience has grown and they’ve overcome several moments with their Family and the team where Sam thought quitting was the only option. Each one taught them a valuable lesson, and now when they feel those feelings they know what to think and do. Sam has a new journey ahead of them though, the Momentum Young Adult program!

Worth Fighting For

You might be thinking that Risky Kids is just a kids program! How important can it be?

  • Risky Kids is crucial and powerfully transformative.
  • Our skilled team ensures a fun, memorable learning journey for young people.
  • Understanding each stage helps manage challenges and build resilience.

The answer is that what we’re doing now, we truly, deeply believe is not only important, but amazingly powerful because we’ve designed it to be for that very purpose.

Not only does our team have the skills to help young people navigate the Stages of Becoming, but to help them have fun and have an experience filled with awesome memories at the same time.

Each of these stages has its own challenges, but by working with our team and learning to understand each step you can navigate quitting and avoidance behaviour towards deep, lasting resilience and health.

Read on to learn about each of the stages in depth, both what to expect and what to do when you get there!

Richard Williams

Richard Williams

Risky Kids Founder, Director of Programming

Richard Williams is a fitness industry consultant, gym owner, business coach and professional stunt actor with more than a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry. With an education in psychology and criminology, Richard blended life experience as a fitness industry consultant with Spartan Race, gym owner, elite-obstacle racer, ultra-runner and professional stunt actor to create the Risky Kids program.

Richard has a passion for enacting meaningful social change through all avenues of health and wellbeing and believes that obstacles are the way. Some of Richard’s key achievements include:

  • Key consultant/coordinator Spartan Race/Tough Mudder/Extreme Endurance
  • OCR World Championship Finalist –  Team & Solo (2015)
  • OCR World Championship Silver Medallist – Team Endurance (2018)
  • Professional film and television stunt performer for 15 years

Considered one of Australia’s foremost experts in the fields of fitness, wellbeing and behavioural science, Richard is frequently in demand as a guest speaker for relevant government and non-
government bodies and organisations. Speaking engagements centred on the success of the Risky Kids program, philosophy and approach have included:

  • Expert speaker/panellist Sports & Camp; Recreation Victoria and Outdoors Victoria forums
  • Closing expert speaker at the Australian Camps Association National Conference
  • Expert speaker at the National Fitness Expo, FILEX