When working with young learners, it is important to remember that they are seeing things and doing things for the first time. So activities and concepts that might seem trivially easy & obvious to an adult are not so easy or obvious for a child.
So when you are introducing your child to something new, especially if the task involves many steps and ideas, then take a moment to step back and examine the activity from the perspective of a child. What things might be confusing? What actions might be physically challenging?
Kids can do quite a lot, actually, so don’t assume that an activity is beyond their abilities. In fact, a lot of people assumed that Magic was too complex a game for young children, and yet, here we are, playing Magic Junior with our kids.
By breaking down an activity into several steps, and working with a child to help them master each step individually, we can then get children to perform quite complex tasks on their own or with minimal assistance.
So let’s take a look at a skill that adults might take for granted, but can be quite challenging for little kids with little hands: holding the cards.
Most of us, when we hold cards, will fan them out in our hand so we can see all of them at the same time. However, young children have much smaller hands can they will find this action to be very difficult.
The cards will tumble and fall out of their hands, especially when holding the cards with one hand while selecting and pulling another card out of their hand.
Think about how many different skills are required to do that seemingly simple task. You need hand/eye coordination and depth perception to select and pinch the correct card. Then you need to ease the pressure on the rest of the cards just enough to allow the selected card to be pulled out, but not so much that all the cards fall out. These are very precise and difficult movements that require a great deal of coordination and practice.
Magic Junior addresses this problem by only starting the game with 3 cards in hand, so that’s a little easier to manage, but it’s still not going to be easy for younger children. You will often see them crushing cards in their hands because they can’t quite apply the right amount of pressure and so they over-compensate.
So if you see your child struggling with this skill, perhaps you should set Magic Junior aside at first and develop this skill with an easier game before overwhelming your kid with too many new skills and concepts all at once.
Try starting with a game like “Go Fish” or “Slap Jack” or “Old Maid”, or any number of simple card games. You can also work on some basic concepts like taking turns, number recognition, concealing their hand from others, and matching/comparing. One thing to keep in mind is that many normal playing cards are quite slippery, so they are not ideal for this activity. Try finding large, over-sized Go Fish (or Old Maid) cards that are easier to handle.
Once your child has a better grasp of card game fundamentals and has mastered holding cards in their hands without crushing them or dropping them, then you can pick Magic Junior back up and give it another try.
If you child is really struggling with holding cards in their hand, one other thing you can try is to teach your child to hold the cards in a stack in one hand. Do not fan them out.
Instead, if they want to look at their cards in hand, they can move a card from the top of their hand-pile to the bottom, and repeat this process to look at their whole hand, one card at a time.
Yes, this means teaching your kid the infamous and annoying “Kibler shuffle”, but until they can fan cards out in their hands, this is a good alternative.