As your child is growing and developing physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually, it’s important for parents to recognize what stage of development their child is at. Parents who recognize the differences in the developmental growth stages are often more successful in parenting. Read through the developmental differences listed below. Keep in mind that children grow at different rates with different degrees of success and failure. As always, it’s important for parents to check with their pediatrician while their child is progressing through the developmental stages described in this article.
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.
Allow the child move and explore.
Assist and allow the child to begin practicing cutting with a scissors, use writing and eating utensils and using their fingers as often as possible.
Not allow the 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 sessions in one day).
Encourage the child to be active and have FUN and PLAY!
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.
Read to and with your elementary child. Yes! Read. Read. Read!
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’s study interest.
Be patient! Elementary children usually love to learn. Be careful not to turn their love of learning off by being overly critical of mistakes or failures. Make learning FUN! Allow learning mistakes to become part of their education and intellectual development. Children often succeed after making mistakes or errors when the parent remains positive and encouraging.
Help the child to make decisions and choices by limiting their options to two or three choices. Again, be patient.
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 the child repeat back to you what you said to check for understanding.
Begin to team with the child’s teachers and school when learning difficulties occur. Teachers are encouraged to contact parents of children who have persistent problems in learning. Be open to options provided for your child to be assessed for certain learning disabilities.
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. Emotional IQ is just as important as intellectual IQ. If you feel your child has “gifted” tendencies, team with your child’s teachers to determine the best academic curriculum, social and emotional plans to meet your child’s needs.
Elementary Children generally want to please their parents, teachers and other adults in their lives.
Children in this age group often begin to develop empathy toward others.
Elementary children often depend on adults for reassurance and encouragement.
Moods swings are often predictable and easier to handle then middle and high school children.
Monitor the child’s stress level. Children lives should be balanced with family time, learning time, playtime, social-time and downtime (time alone).
Begin to teach the child to accept who they are. It’s okay for children to learn 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 do the dishes. You should be proud of yourself. I am.”
Self-esteem is just that- SELF-esteem. Parents cannot build a child’s self-esteem. However, parents can put a child in situations where they have a chance to succeed. With each success, children learn that self-esteem is built by their efforts, not by someone else’s efforts. Each individual success builds confidence. Each individual failure provides the child with another opportunity to learn how to succeed.
Elementary children usually lack social skills. They need to be taught and provided time to learn how to interact with peers.
Children in this age group usually have a difficult time sharing. Elementary children will often site 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 normal for children in this age group to want to play alone. Parents must often encourage their child to interact with others.
Provide the child with opportunities to participate in activities outside the family setting. Don’t over do it! Sports, church, clubs, theater and other activities must be balanced and prioritized with school and family and downtime.
Do not force your child to be social when he or she is not ready.
Be a role model. Make friends with the parents and families you want your child to be meet.
Let your child know that it’s important to be polite and friendly. Teach manners!