Growth and Development, Ages 6 to 10 Years (cont.)
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What to Expect
Although children from ages 6 to 10 display a similar range of physical abilities, mental strengths, and social behaviors, they develop at their own pace. Even within families, differences between children can be extreme. One sibling may be outgoing and popular, while another is shy and awkward. Some children make progress in one area, such as reading and writing, while making little or no progress in another skill, such as math. Focus on helping your child enjoy and learn from activities rather than on measuring the outcome.
General development from ages 6 to 10
You can expect children in this age group to progress in five major areas:
- Physical development. Children ages 6 to 10 usually grow in spurts, averaging about 7 lb (3 kg) and 2.5 in. (6 cm) each year. Your child will also lose about four baby teeth each year, which are replaced by permanent teeth.
- Cognitive development. Thinking and reasoning skills, called cognitive skills, mature rapidly between ages 6 and 10. As these skills develop, so does a child's ability to solve problems. But reasoning remains simple in that most children only understand concepts as they relate to the here and now. Concepts such as the distant past are usually too abstract for children at this age to grasp.
- Emotional and social development. Children ages 6 to 10 are developing friendships. Self-esteem, which is a person's sense of worth and belonging, becomes increasingly important as your child interacts more with people outside of his or her immediate family. Children this age also compare themselves to others.
- Language development. At age 6, most children know the meanings of about 13,000 words. From ages 6 to 10, they gradually think in more complex ways. For example, children advance from understanding simple sentences to being able to interpret complicated content within a paragraph. They grow from writing a few words at a time to composing complex stories and reports.
- Sensory and motor development. Children between ages 6 and 10 make major gains in muscle strength and coordination. Most children within this age range develop basic motor skills, such as kicking, catching, and throwing. Gradually, children become more skilled at more complex activities, such as dancing, shooting a basketball, or playing the piano.
Growth and development milestones are roughly grouped by year of age. Use age-specific guidelines as one of many tools to assess your child's overall development. Many factors, such as inherited genetic traits, health, personality and temperament, cultural norms, and home environment, influence a child's pace at reaching milestones.
Milestones by age
By 6 years of age, most children:
- Have gained enough muscle strength and coordination to hop and skip, and they can catch a ball.
- Begin to understand cause-and-effect relationships. "Magical thinking" typical of preschoolers quickly fades around this age. But your child keeps an active imagination.
- Focus on only one issue at a time when solving problems.
- Begin to understand how combinations of letters and sounds form words. They recognize some written words and may even have started reading simple text.
- Become increasingly social with their peers. But they depend on caregivers for most personal interaction.
By 7 years of age, most children:
- Begin to show a preference for a certain learning style, such as hands-on or quiet reflection.
- Develop friendships, usually with other children of the same gender.
- Like to be involved in some group play but need time alone too.
- Enjoy arts and crafts and physically active play.
By 8 years of age, most children:
- Generally think of things as "either-or." Things are either great or awful, ugly or beautiful, right or wrong. Children focus on one part of an issue at a time, which makes it hard for them to understand complexities.
- Are reading.
- Enjoy being around their friends. Some enjoy group activities, such as team sports.
- Have rapidly changing emotions. Angry outbursts are common. Many children of this age are critical of others, especially of their parents. They may seem dramatic and sometimes rude.
- Have well-developed speech and use correct grammar most of the time. Many children have well-developed conversation skills.
By 9 years of age, most children:
- Think more independently and are developing good decision-making skills. This reflects their increasing critical-thinking skills and ability to consider more than one perspective at a time.
- Have caring, solid friendships.
- Have gained a strong sense of empathy, which is understanding and being sensitive to the feelings of others.
- Are curious about relationships between boys and girls. Few will admit to this interest. And most will insist that they are horrified by the opposite sex.
- Speak well and pronounce words clearly.
- Become increasingly interested in team sports.
- Like to draw, paint, make jewelry, build models, or try other activities that use fine motor skills.
By 10 years of age, most children:
- Know the complete date (day of the week, day of the month, month, and year).
- Enjoy being with friends and often have a "best" friend of the same gender.
- Continue to enjoy team and group activities.
- Continue to insist that they are not interested in children of the opposite sex. But they may show off, tease, or act silly as a way of interacting with them.
- Have speech patterns that are nearly at an adult level.
- Sometimes seek out magazines and books in subjects of special interest.
- Have good control of large and small muscles. Some children enjoy activities that use all these skills, such as basketball, dancing, and soccer.