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School Age Children Development & Parenting Tips (6-12)


Raising school-age children can be an exciting experience. Watching kids try new activities, cheering them on at athletic events, and applauding their accomplishments at recitals are usually some of the high points for most parents. However, success often precedes frustration and sometimes involves learning to accept one’s weaknesses while celebrating and building on strengths. Well-equipped parents can be excellent coaches for their children no matter the endeavor.

While toddlers and preschoolers need constant supervision, school-age children become gradually ready for more independence. However, learning to make good choices and exercising self-discipline is not easy for many. Parents need to impart a moral code that their child gradually internalizes. As children struggle with these essential tasks, parents must be able to provide praise and encouragement. Still, they must also allow their kids sometimes to experience the natural consequences of their behavior or provide logical consequences to help them learn from their mistakes.

Moving Onward (Encouraging Development):

Play Activities

6-9 years

The synaptic connections in motor and sensory areas are firmly established, and the process of eliminating synapses (pruning) in these areas has begun. Because of the activity in higher brain “control” centers, there is an increase in children’s levels of attention and ability to inhibit impulses.

By the time they’re in the primary grades, kids have gotten the hang of basic dexterity, language, and social skills; now, they’re eager to practice and refine them. They like to challenge themselves intellectually with puzzles and games that test their growing knowledge or involve strategy (checkers, card games), and physically, with pick-up sticks, jacks, roller skates, pogo sticks, and ball games.

There are many other imaginative options than can broaden this group’s horizons, from craft sets for making jewelry and puppets to a microscope, nature-study kit, or a printing set. You might also turn the passion for collecting that many children develop at this age into a special link between the two of you: for example, by adding a particular doll or action figure or set of stamps.

9-14 years

The maturation of the frontal lobe continues in adolescence. (Pruning continues during this stage). Speed and efficiency of thought increase, spatial working memory improves, emotional regulation becomes greater, planning and problem-solving skills increase, and scientific reasoning and understanding of one’s own thinking develop. Play becomes sophisticated and increasingly symbolic.

Play in the preteen years is often a group production, which kids in this age group tend to prefer. Complex head games for several players and equipment for organized sports or activities (baseball bat and glove, racket/paddle games) are often a hit. Electronic games are also popular, played either en masse or by competitive turns.

At the same time, preteens enjoy lots of time and concentration on individual interests, including books, music, the elaborate construction of model-building sets, mature tools, sewing kits, and paints. By this age, their tastes and skills are pretty well defined, so targeting toy and entertainment purchases to the likes and abilities of each child is important.

Toys and materials for play and learning for school-age children, including action figures, building sets, games, sports, and recreational equipment, video games, and books from Amazon.com:  5-7 year-0lds,  8-13 year-olds, 14 years & up.

Amazon Stem Club
STEM toys are handpicked by Amazon’s toy experts to excite young learners with hands-on experiments and explorations of electricity, earth science, and simple math. Kids gain exposure to STEM topics through creating their own dinosaur fossils and other cool projects.
Recommended Books for Parents

Your Child's Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning From Birth to Adolescence Your Child’s Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning From Birth to Adolescence  By Jane Healy This recently updated classic provides a window into the fascinating process of brain development and learning. It looks at the roots of emotion, intelligence, and creativity, translating the most current scientific research into practical suggestions for parents and teachers.  amazon-button

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children  By Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman A best selling book based on sound child development research this book is “one of the most influential books about children ever published, Nurture Shock offers a revolutionary new perspective on children that upends a library’s worth of conventional wisdom. With impeccable storytelling and razor-sharp analysis, the authors demonstrate that many of modern society’s strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring–because key twists in the science have been overlooked. Nothing like a parenting manual, NurtureShock gets to the core of how we grow, learn and live” (publisher review).  amazon-button

Child Behavior: The Classic Child Care Manual from the Gesell Institute of Human Development Child Behavior: The Classic Child Care Manual from the Gesell Institute of Human Development  By Frances L. Ilg, Louise Bates Ames, Sidney M. Baker  “Since it was first published, Child Behavior has become classic reading for parents and professionals around the world. This authoritative guide offers the basics of child development, addressing exactly how children’s bodies can affect their behavior. The authors not only discuss what to do to treat specific behavior problems but actually advise parents on how, in many instances, they can prevent many common and more serious problems” (publishers review).  amazon-button

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk   By Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish  This is one of my favorite books to recommend to parents.  Communication is so important in establishing and growing cooperative and loving relationships.  The advice will help you develop a strong bond with your child as well as mutual respect.  This is definitely parenting 101.  amazon-button

The Whole Brained Child The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind  By Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson This book is based on the latest brain research and provides easy to use strategies that foster healthy brain development, leading to calmer, happier children. The authors explain—and make accessible—the new science of how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures.  amazon-button

Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child The Heart of Parenting Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child The Heart of Parenting  By Ph.D. John Gottman, Joan Declaire  There are many skills a child needs to develop.  The ability to regulate emotions can be learned.  This approach helps the child learn to understand and accept their feelings as well as express them appropriately.  This changes the game of parenting from how to control your child to teaching them self-control.  amazon-button

The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children   By Ross W. Greene PhD  This book is great for parents who find they are raising a challenging child.  It helps you discover the lagging developmental skills behind your child’s inability to cope and interact appropriately in different situations.  You will learn how to help them gain these skills while resolving conflict and solving mutual problems.  I recommend this book frequently to parents in my practice.  amazon-button

1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 By Thomas W. Phelan  A well written book that provides the basics of creating a positive parent-child relationship with the tools to motivate children to master the basic communication, problem solving and behavioral skills necessary for success at home, school and in the community.  You’ll find tools to use in virtually every situation, including advice for common problems such as: • Whining • Sibling rivalry • Reluctance to do chores • Refusing to go to bed or getting up in the middle of the night • Talking back • Stubbornness  amazon-button

SOS: Help for Parents, Third Edition SOS: Help for Parents, Third Edition  By Lynn Clark  A great set of tools for helping parents work with young children (3 – 7) to master the art of self-control, cooperation and motivation to engage in age-appropriate activities.  I have been using this book with parents since the first edition was published.  You learn the best methods for improving your child’s behavior and for reducing stress in your life. You learn essential child-rearing rules, how to avoid four common child-rearing errors, primary methods for increasing good behavior, major methods for stopping bad behavior, active ignoring, Grandmas Rule, how to avoid nine common time-out mistakes, time-out for toys that misbehave, how to handle children who rebel against time-out, using points and contracts, logical consequences, natural consequences, behavior penalty, and helping your child express feelings.  amazon-button

The Parent's Handbook: Systematic Training for Effective Parenting The Parent’s Handbook: Systematic Training for Effective Parenting  By Don Dinkmeyer Sr., Gary D. McKay, Don Dinkmeyer Jr. One of the country’s most popular parenting guides. Helps parents meet the challenges of raising a family today. The Parent’s Handbook shows parents how they can become more knowledgeable, confident and successful in relating to their children. Discusses misbehavior, communication, encouragement, natural and logical consequences, family meetings, drug and alcohol abuse prevention.  amazon-button

Videos on School Age Development

School Age Developmental Milestones

PhysicalLanguageIntellectual - CognitiveSocial - Emotional

Six to Nine Years

  • Growth rate slows.
  • Requires around eleven hours of sleep each night.
  • Needs frequent rest.
  • Establishes preference for one side of the body over the other.
  • Has established which hand to use.
  • Girls mature faster than boys.
  • Coordination not fully developed.
  • Runs, jumps, climbs, slides, and dances.
  • Plays ball, tag, and catch.
  • Improves writing skills.
  • Engages in art activities.
  • Plays musical instruments.
  • Dresses and undresses self completely.

Nine to 12 Years

  • Develops more adult-like proportions.
  • Develops harder, larger bones.
  • Is sick less often.
  • Extremely active.
  • Starts developing secondary sex characteristics.
  • May begin growth spurt.
  • Develops interest in more specific motor skills such as skating, bicycling, running and gymnastics.
  • Engages in organized sports such as tennis, baseball, football, swimming, and golf.
  • Has well developed small muscles.
  • Refines writing.
  • Develops special interests in activities such as model building, shop work, art classes, music, and crafts.
  • Tries new foods; has favorites.
  • Eats neatly.

Six to Seven Years

  • Should have mastered the consonants s-z, r, voiceless th, ch, wh, and the soft g as in George
  • Should handle opposite analogies easily: girl-boy, man-woman, flies-swims, blunt-sharp short-long, sweet-sour, etc.
  • Understands such terms as: alike, different, beginning, end, etc.
  • Should be able to tell time to quarter hour.
  • Should be able to do simple reading and to write or print many words.

Seven to Eight Years

  • Begins to use reference books.
  • Enjoys reading aloud.
  • Enjoys mysteries, adventure stories, and biographies.
  • Adjusts language and vocabulary to fit an audience, topic, or purpose.
  • Develops vocabulary from textbooks and personal reading.
  • Gives precise directions and instructions for more complex activities and tasks.
  • Tells and retells stories in a formal storytelling format using descriptive language, story elements, and voice to create interest and mood.
  • Demonstrates effective listening skills by exhibiting appropriate body language.
  • Uses a variety of simple and compound sentences of varied lengths.

Six to Nine Years

  • Asks more complex questions.
  • Desires detailed answers.
  • Shows unusual interest in numbers.
  • Accepts and understands rules.
  • Exhibits longer attention span.
  • Likes active, competitive games.
  • Enjoys simple games such as checkers and cards.
  • Draws symbolic pictures.
  • Understands the value of coins.
  • Enjoys hobbies and collections.
  • Likes to experiment.
  • Enjoys playing with dolls, blocks, and tools.

Nine to 12 Years

  • Recognizes problems and can work out solutions.
  • Draws conclusions from what is seen.
  • Learns to generalize and draw conclusions.
  • Is interested in factual information.
  • Enjoys group projects such as science and art.
  • Likes to construct things.
  • Enjoys learning experiences involving pets.
  • Applies math concepts to daily life.
  • Spends long periods of time working on hobbies and crafts.
  • Has increased memory and thinking.
  • Becomes more abstract.
  • Understands the value of money.

Six to Nine Years

  • Is more cooperative and conscientious.
  • Desires support and approval.
  • Asks permission and follows instructions.
  • Likes to work and play with others.
  • Prefers friends own age; usually own sex.
  • Has a strong desire to please.
  • Is proud of and likes to assist parents.
  • May voluntarily help with younger siblings.
  • Forms sex-role identity (what it means to be male or female).
  • Respects other’s property.
  • Expresses anger more verbally than physically.
  • Boys quarrel more and use more physical force than girls.
  • Engages in elaborate and imaginative role play situations.

Six to Nine Years

  • Becomes more settled and quiet.
  • Worries about many things.
  • Shows fear of imaginary creatures (witches, monsters).
  • Is fearful of being alone.
  • Girls show more fear than boys.
  • Questions adults’ ideas.
  • Resents being told what to do.
  • Wants adult approval and love.
  • Desires independence.
  • Understands right from wrong.
  • Wants to be free of guilt.
  • Offers excuses for wrongdoing.
  • Complains about anything unpleasant.
  • Shows increased interest in friends.
  • Begins to have boy and girl friendships.
  • Desires group acceptance.
  • Boasts constantly.
  • Tells secrets, whispers, and giggles.

Nine to 12 Years

  • Becomes less self-centered.
  • Becomes excessively moody if puberty begins.
  • Quarrels more often.
  • Is sensitive and experiences hurt feelings in social situations.
  • Gets along well with others.
  • Engages in group activities.
  • Enjoys making new friends.
  • Shows loyalty to peers.
  • Acts and dresses like peers.
  • Maybe embarrassed to show affection to family members in front of peers.
  • Boys think girls are a nuisance and girls are tomboys.
  • Devises secret codes and practical jokes.
  • Resents being teased and criticized.
  • Develops a strong sense of right and wrong.
  • Is self-conscious of sexual development.
  • Exhibits hero worship.