Skip to Content

K-8 (5 - 12 years)

Talking to Your Child | Growth and Development | Physical Development | Cognitive Development | Emotional and Social Development

From starting school to entering puberty, age five to 12 is a time of great progress and development for your child. While the changes may be more gradual, your child’s thinking, emotions and body will continue to develop.

Increased interactions with peers make your child more prone to be exposed to illness. For this reason it’s important for your child to continue to see a pediatrician for regular checkups and to stay up-to-date on any childhood and adolescent immunizations. Know when to call a doctor should your child develop a common illness or if you feel that your child may have a developmental disability.

As your child grows more independent and spends less time at home, remember to set clear boundaries and encourage healthy habits, including getting to sleep on time. Continue to read to your child and schedule time together as a family to facilitate cognitive and language development. Siblings play an important role in each other’s development and relationship building, so it’s necessary to address any issues with sibling rivalry as they arise.

Talking to Your Child

As your child’s own personality, skills and special talents become clearer, make a point to discover new outlets and encourage his or her interests. Providing positive reinforcement lets your child know that you are proud of his or her accomplishments, which in turn can help builds self-esteem.

With this age range, comes significant changes in your child’s body. Be sure to answer any questions about your child’s changing body or emotions with honesty and openness. Conversations about sexuality should be ongoing, so that your child is able to learn the appropriate information at the right times.

Talk to your child about avoiding tobacco, drugs and alcohol before he or she starts middle school, and remember that you are his or her best example. If necessary, try to quit smoking and drink only in moderation. Maintaining an active interest in your child’s life and friends will help you to better recognize danger signs.

Growth and Development

Children between the ages of five and 12 will gradually progress at a rate that is slower than the one during the first five years of life. Still physical, intellectual, emotional and social development can cause tremendous changes in your child from one age to the next.

Every child is different. Always ask your pediatrician if you have questions or concerns.

Physical Development

Your child will continue to build strength and further develop muscle coordination, allowing him or her to engage in more physical activities, from kicking a ball to learning to dance. While all children may not carry the same interest in sports, it is crucial that you encourage physical activity as a part of your child’s daily routine.

Around age 11, children enter adolescence and will go through a number of physical changes. Just before puberty, a growth spurt will occur in girls that may temporarily cause boys to fall behind in height. Girls will also begin to develop breast and start their periods, while boys begin to grow facial hair. Both will grow pubic hair.

Puberty can begin earlier or later depending on the child. It is very important during this transition to reassure your child that his or her own development is normal even if friends and peers are experiencing it at different rates.

Cognitive Development

Between age six and 10, children are able to better understand and think about several elements of an issue. However, they are still likely to think in very concrete terms and only about things they can experience for themselves.

After age 10, a child’s thinking begins to evolve and to take in more abstract and symbolic ideas. He or she will also gain a better understanding of consequences, even though he or she may not yet grasp how these consequences will impact his or her own life.

Emotional and Social Development

As your child leaves home for school, he or she will encounter a whole new world of social interaction and responsibility. Making and having friends will continue to grow in importance as your child forms his or her own social circles.

Around age 11, your adolescent may start spending less time with the family and more time with friends or in his or her own room. Self-esteem can be difficult to maintain for adolescents as they navigate the emotional and social changes that puberty brings. Even if your child appears reluctant, it is very important to continue including him or her in family outings and events.