Child Development: School-Agers
Blink—and They're Running Out the Door
Get the camera ready, it's the first day of school! There stands your child at the bus stop, sporting an oversized backpack. It's going to be a wild ride the next few years: homework hassles, power struggles and eye-rolling! Friends will become your child's lifeline—and will matter much more than parents.
That's not fair! School-agers begin to develop their own opinions. They are gaining both reasoning and decision-making skills. Your child is creating a bridge between relying on you and becoming his or her own person. Encourage school-agers to express opinions and toughts in ways that are okay. At school, your child will need to be able to make independent decisions. Practice this at home by encouraging your child to come up with solutions to problems. Encourage creatitivity so yor child can come up with multiple ideas.
All set and ready to go. Physically, this age group can do many things. They may be able to ride a bike, swim, catch a ball well and even balance on one foot. Encourage trying different activities and sports so your child can figure out likes, dislikes and special talents.
Reading is fundamental. Most children by age 7 can sound out words, are learning to read and can follow directions. Older children may begin to read for pleasure. Encourage reading daily and provide help as needed to sound out words. Talk to your child's teacher to ensure reading at the appropriate grade level- and seek additional help as needed. Learning to read at grade level now is critical for your child's success in higer grades.
You know better. Reasoning skills have begun to develop as well as impulse control. School-ages bring to understand right and wrong—and not just the rules. Letting your child experience natural consequences of poor decisions or poor behavior is an effective form of discipline for this age group. Over-preaching often falls on deaf ears. Hand out a consequence with a simple explanation—and no more.
Keep the conversations going. School-agers are coming in contact with different people and different situations daily. They may have a lot of questions, and you may have the answers! Find time to listen to what your child has to say and show that you are listening by being understanding. You do not ahv eto always fix the problem—sometimes your child just wants to be heard. Answer questions by providing information that is age-appropriate and honest. Create opportunities for honest conversation now and your child may continiue to come to you in later years.
Girls begin to develop quicker than boys. Body changes may cause embarrassment and the need for privacy. Be honest with your child and talk about what changes to expect. Discuss with your pediatrician and concerns you have about physical development and emotional concerns. Invite your child to share with you or another close adult and questions about physical or social changes.