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Normal Growth and Development of School Age Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 1, 2023.

Normal growth and development is how your school age child grows physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. A school age child is 5 to 12 years old.


Physical changes:

  • Your child may be 43 inches tall and weigh about 43 pounds at the start of the school age years. As puberty starts, your child's height and weight will increase quickly. Your child may reach 59 inches and weigh about 90 pounds by age 12.
  • Your child's bones, muscles, and fat continue to grow during this time. These changes may happen faster as your child approaches puberty. Puberty may start as early as 7 years of age in girls and 9 years of age in boys.
  • Your child's strength, balance, and coordination improves. He or she may start to participate in sports.

Emotional and social changes:

  • Acceptance becomes important to your child. He or she may start to be influenced more by friends than family. Your child may feel like he or she needs to keep up with other kids and belong to a group. Friends can be a source of support during these years.
  • Your child may be eager to learn new things on his own at school. He or she learns to get along with more people and understand social customs.

Mental changes:

  • Your child may develop fears of the unknown. He or she may be afraid of the dark. He or she may start to understand more about the world and may fear robbers, injuries, or death.
  • Your child will begin to think logically. He or she will be able to make sense of what is happening around him or her. His ability to understand ideas and his memory improve. He or she is able to follow complex directions and rules and to solve problems.
  • Your child can name numbers and letters easily. He or she will start to read. His vocabulary and ability to pronounce words improves significantly.

Help your child develop:

  • Help your child get enough sleep. He or she needs 10 to 11 hours each day. Set up a routine at bedtime. Make sure his room is cool and dark. Do not give him or her caffeine late in the day.
  • Give your child a variety of healthy foods each day. This includes fruit, vegetables, and protein, such as chicken, fish, and beans. Limit foods that are high in fat and sugar. Make sure your child eats breakfast to give him or her energy for the day. Have your child sit with the family at mealtime, even if he or she does not want to eat.
    Healthy Foods
  • Get involved in your child's activities. Stay in contact with his or her teachers. Get to know his or her friends. Spend time with your child and be there for him or her.
  • Encourage at least 1 hour of exercise every day. Exercises improves your child's strength and helps maintain a healthy weight.
    Black Family Walking for Exercise
  • Set clear rules and be consistent. Set limits. Praise and reward your child when he or she does something positive. Do not criticize or show disapproval when your child has done something wrong. Instead, explain what you would like your child to do and tell him or her why.
  • 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 or her. Let your child discover his interest at his or her own pace. All activities should be appropriate for your child's age.

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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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