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Child Development – Elementary

As your child is growing and developing physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually, it’s important for parents to recognize what stage in development their child is at. Parents who recognize the differences in the developmental growth stages that occur and changes are often able to successfully change their parenting strategies as their child grows older. Read through the developmental differences listed below. Keep in mind that children growth at different rates with different degrees of success and failure. Just as the sun comes up in the east, however, much of the developmental traits listed below hold true for most children. As always, check with your medical doctor while your child is getting a routine physical to answer questions regarding your child’s development.

Physical Development

  • Physical development in this age group includes steady growth patterns.
  • Gross motor (large muscles) are more developed than fine motor (small muscle). Elementary children are able to run and jump and control the larger muscles in their legs. They have a more difficult time holding small items, catching or putting something together using their fingers.
  • Elementary children learn through movement. Physical education is important during these developmental years. Let them touch and run!
  • The body and mind seldom work together.

Parents should:

1. Let their child move and explore.

2. Assist their child and let their child practice cutting with a scissors, adjusting writing utensils and using their fingers as often as possible.

3. Not allow their child to lift weights or continually participate in activities that over stress large muscles (Example: Participate in three soccer games or five hour gymnastic training in one day).

4. Encourage their child to be active and have FUN!

Intellectual Development

· Rapid and steady growth of intelligence occurs within this age group.

· Elementary children have a short attention span (15-20 minutes).

· Elementary children generally enjoy learning.

· This age group usually has a difficult time making choices and decisions.

· Elementary children are not analytical in nature. Processing and analyzing information is not a common developmental trait.

Parents should:

1. Read to and with your elementary child. Yes! Read. Read. Read!

2. Be prepared to change academic subject areas after 15-20 minutes to help keep the child engaged. This includes reading a book, playing a game, writing, counting etc. This time frame will allow the parent to have a greater chance to succeed in teaching, modeling and engaging the child study interest.

3. Be patient! Elementary children usually love to learn. Be careful not to take this love by being overly critical of mistakes or failures. Make learning FUN!

4. Help your child to make decisions and choices by limiting their options to two or three choices. Again, be patient.

5. Avoid using a lot of analogies when you know that your child is having a difficult time processing information. Provide simple answers, comparison and have your child explain to you what you said to see if they understand.

6. Realize that an elementary child that scores high on an IQ scale, nationally norm test and other testing instruments does not mean that the child is physically, socially or emotionally ready to become involved in activities that require these developmental traits to succeed. See the Social-Emotional section in Scott Counseling for more information.

Emotional Development

  • Elementary children generally want to please their parents, teachers and other adults in their lives.
  • The children in this age group are usually able to demonstrate empathy for others.
  • Elementary children are often dependent on adults to reassure them.
  • Moods swings are often predicable and most often easy for adults to handle.

Parents should:

1. Monitor your child’s stress level. Your child’s life should be balanced with family time, learning time, social time and down time (time alone).

2. Begin to teach your child to accept who they are. It’s okay for children to learn their shortcomings as long as they know their positive strengths. Do not praise your child just for the sake of praise. Be specific with your positive words. For example: “I like the way you helped me with the dishes. You should be proud of yourself. I am.”

3. Self-esteem is just that- their self-esteem. PARENTS CANNOT BUILD THEIR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM! The parent can only put their child in situations where they have a chance to succeed. With each success, children learn that self-esteem is built by their own efforts, not by someone else’s efforts. Each individual success builds confidence. Each individual failure provides the child with another opportunity to succeed.

Social Development

  • Elementary children usually lack social skills. They need to be taught and provided actual time to learn how to interact with their peers.
  • Children in this age group usually have a difficult time sharing.
  • Elementary children will often sight their parents and close relative as their best friends.
  • Social needs for making friends will fluctuate from child to child in this age group. It is okay for children in this age group to want to play alone. Parents must often encourage their child to interact with others.

Parents should:

1. Provide their children with opportunities to be social outside of the family setting. It is important that you team with other parents who have children who attend your child’s school, church, sports programs and other activities your child is involved with to make social arrangements.

2. Do not force your child to be social when they are not ready. Be patient and encourage your child to participate with other children. Avoid making your child feel bad if they do not wish to be social.

3. Be a role model. Make friends first with the parents who have children your child’s age.

4. Let your child know that making friends takes practice. Tell them it’s important to share, be polite and follow the rules that you have established for them.

Source by Scott Wardell

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