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Normal Growth and Development of School Age Children
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
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.
- 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. Your child may start to participate in sports.
Emotional and social changes:
- Acceptance becomes important to your child. Your child may start to be influenced more by friends than family. He may feel like he 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 learns to get along with more people and understand social customs.
- Your child may develop fears of the unknown. He may be afraid of the dark. He may start to understand more about the world and may fear robbers, injuries, or death.
- Your child will begin to think logically. He will be able to make sense of what is happening around him. His ability to understand ideas and his memory improve. He is able to follow complex directions and rules and to solve problems.
- Your child can name numbers and letters easily. He will start to read. His vocabulary and ability to pronounce words improves significantly.
Help your child develop:
- Help your child get enough sleep. He 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 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 he eats breakfast to give him energy for the day. Have your child sit with the family at mealtime, even if he does not want to eat.
- Get involved in your child's activities. Stay in contact with his teachers. Get to know his friends. Spend time with him and be there for him.
- Encourage at least 1 hour of exercise every day. Exercises improves his strength and helps maintain a healthy weight.
- Set clear rules and be consistent. Set limits for your child. Praise and reward him when he does something positive. Do not criticize or show disapproval when your child has done something wrong. Instead, explain what you would like him to do and tell him 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. Let him discover his interest at his own pace. All activities should be appropriate for your child's age.
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