Normal Growth And Development Of School Age Children

Who are school-age children?

School-age children are those 5 to 12 years of age. This time period is a stage of continuing growth and development for your young child. He will go through many changes in his physical, mental, and social development.

What physical changes occur during the school-age years?

  • Body make-up: Your child's body continues to change as he grows older. His bones, muscles, fat, and skin grow and develop. These changes occur quickly as he reaches puberty. Puberty is the period where the body matures sexually. Body hair starts to grow and body odor may appear. Girls start to develop their breasts. Later, they may also start menstruating (having a monthly period). Puberty may start as early as seven years of age in girls, and nine years of age in boys.

  • Movement skills: Your child's strength, balance, and coordination (ability to move smoothly) improve further. Smoothness and speed with physical activities allow him to participate in sports. Hand and finger control also improves.

  • Weight and height: At the start of the school-age years, a child's height may be about 43 and one-half inches. Weight may be about 43 pounds. Later, as puberty starts, your child's height and weight will increase quickly. On the average, a child's height may reach 59 inches at age 12. Girls are likely to weigh more than boys. Girls may weigh about 93 pounds while boys may weigh about 89 pounds.

What mental changes occur during the school-age years?

  • Reading skills: Your child can name numbers and letters easily. As early as six years of age, your child may be able to read single words and understand what he is reading. Later, he may be able to read fluently and pronounce words correctly.

  • Thinking skills: By the school-age years, your child begins to think logically. He can make sense of what is happening around him. His ability to understand ideas and remember things improve. He can place objects in order, or sort and group them. He is able to follow more complex directions and rules, and solve some problems better.

  • Thoughts and ideas: During the school-age years, your child may develop fears of the unknown. He may be afraid of ghosts, monsters, or dark places. He begins to understand bad events and may fear robbers, having injuries, and death. Your child may also worry about how he does in school.

What social changes occur during the school-age years?

  • Family: During the school-age years, being accepted becomes very important to your child. This need is partly provided by his family. As your child spends more time with his friends, the influence of family is not as strong as it used to be.

  • Friends: As your child grows older, his friends become more important. He will feel a need to keep up with other children, and belong to a group. He is likely to have same-sex friends. He begins to share secrets with friends he can trust. Friends help a child adjust as he goes through changes in his school environment and activities. They also support him as he faces other stressful life experiences.

  • School: In school, your child becomes eager to learn new things on his own. He learns to get along with more people and understand social customs.

What problems may be seen during the school-age years?

  • Emotional problems: Your child may get anxious because of school concerns. Anxiety problems may be caused by school phobia (fear), or trouble keeping up in school.

  • Lack of sleep: Your child may avoid going to bed, or have trouble falling or staying asleep. Sleep problems may be caused by breathing problems, too much anxiety, or poor sleep scheduling and practices. Lack of sleep decreases your child's energy. This may lead to learning, attention, and behavior problems.

  • Learning difficulties: Problems affecting the brain development may lead to decreased ability to think, learn, and remember. Feelings of loneliness and rejection may also decrease your child's desire to learn.

  • Poor nutrition or not enough physical activity: During the school-age years, your child may prefer fast food or junk food, or lack physical activity. This can result to being underweight, overweight, or at risk of growing overweight. These conditions may lead to medical problems, such as diabetes (high blood sugar), hypertension (high blood pressure), and hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol).

  • Social problems: Poor behavior may cause problems with social skills. This is often seen in children with certain medical conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) or a disorder where your child is defiant or disobedient. Being rejected by other children may also lead to emotional problems.

How can I help my child during the school-age years?

  • Encourage your child to exercise for at least one hour everyday. Exercise may be in the form of active play, brisk walking, and other sports. Play helps his learning, boosts his self-confidence, and improves his skills. Physical activity also improves his strength, makes his heart grow stronger, and keeps your child at a healthy weight. Computer and video games should only be used for 1 to 2 hours a day or less.

  • Encourage your child to try different creative activities. These may include working on a hobby or art project, or playing a musical instrument. Do not force a particular hobby on him. Let him discover his interest at his own pace. All activities should be fit to your child's age.

  • Get involved in your child's activities. Spend time with him, and be there when he needs you. Talk to him, allow him to ask questions, and teach him accordingly. Stay in contact with your child's teachers to find and deal with problems early. Get to know his friends.

  • Make sure your child eats a variety of healthy foods each day. A balanced diet includes fruits, vegetables, bread products, dairy (milk) products, and protein (such as chicken, fish, and beans). Limit the amount of foods high in fat and sugar. Make sure your child eats breakfast to give him energy for the rest of the day. Have him sit with the family at mealtime even if he does not like to eat.

  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep (about 10 to 11 hours) every night. Schedule his sleep with the same bed time and wake time each day. Bedtime routines are also helpful for your child. Keep the room cool and quiet. Avoid giving your child food or drinks with caffeine which may delay his sleep.

  • Time out may be used as a way to discipline your child. This lets him quiet down and think about what he did. It also gives you time to calm down and stay in control. Set limits for your child. Praise and reward your child when it is suitable. Do not criticize or show disapproval when he has done something wrong. Explain what you would like him to do instead, and tell him why.

Where can I find more information?

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
    141 Northwest Point Boulevard
    Elk Grove Village , IL 60007-1098
    Phone: 1- 847 - 434-4000
    Web Address:
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
    11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
    Leawood , KS 66211-2680
    Phone: 1- 913 - 906-6000
    Phone: 1- 800 - 274-2237
    Web Address:

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your child's growth and development. You can then discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat your child.The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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