By Raising Children Network
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Your child's development depends a lot on his temperament, cultural influences and how adults around him behave. It is also affected by how secure he feels in his relationships with adults and the opportunities he has to socialise with other children.
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Many children begin school at five. At this age, they have developed enough independence to be away from you each day. Some will be more ready than others but most are willing to please and keen to fit in.

The following information is just a guide. All children develop at different rates and in different ways. If you are worried about your child's development or if it differs a lot from other children of his age, have a talk with a health professional. It will stop you worrying and, if there is a problem, getting in early will help.

How your school-age child is developing

If you are concerned about your child's development, discuss this with his teacher who may be able to assess the situation and refer you to further help if needed.

  • Sharing and caring. Your school-age child is becoming more social. He plays games, makes up rules and shares toys with other children. He can feel sorry for others if they are upset. He may have just one special friend and one or two trusted adults outside his family. He may tell you when he is frightened or upset and still needs your comforting cuddle. Read more about your school-age child's social and emotional development.
  • Winning and losing. During the primary school years, children learn a lot about right and wrong. They make up rules for games and learn about winning and losing. Most children find it hard to lose. Many will cheat so that they win for a while. At five or six, your child wants to please you and impress his friends more than he wants to lose gracefully. At this age, if a cheating child is forced to obey the rules and keeps losing, he may just stop playing. Cheating often stops once he is more confident about winning sometimes. You can practise winning and losing by playing games of chance (‘snakes and ladders’) and by sometimes allowing him to win. You can show your child how to be a ‘good sport’ by losing graciously yourself. Boost his chances of winning games by giving his opportunities to practise. For example, play sports games in the backyard or explain the basic tactics in a card game of ‘fish’.
  • Learning to learn. At five, many children are natural problem-solvers. Having fun problems to solve at home helps with school learning. Learning experiences outside school (playing the piano, growing a carrot patch) also helps.
  • Words, numbers and questions. He is learning to read and write and appreciates lots of practice at home. Reading picture books with you, recognising letters and sounding out words all help. He may be able to count up to 10 or 20 but may not yet relate numbers to the amounts of things. He is very curious about how the world works. ‘Why’ is his favourite response and he really does want you to answer. Now is a good time to invest in an encyclopedia.
  • Sexual development. Your school-age child may ask you questions about where babies come from, especially if there has been a new arrival in your family. He can understand that sexual intercourse is a way for adults to demonstrate their love and share pleasure, as well as make babies. He may have learned some things about sex through playground discussions. At this age, you can explain to him about sexual intercourse in clear and simple terms.
  • Physical skills. Many five-year-olds love active games that use up their boundless energy. Your school-age child has improved his balancing and coordination skills, so he can probably ride a bike (with training wheels), swim, use a skipping rope and play well with a ball. He uses his fingers to control a pencil and paintbrush, to dress and undress dolls, and do up his zippers and buttons. Find more detailed information about his physical development.
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  • Newsletter snippet: School-age development: in a nutshell

     

    By Raising Children Network

    Most five-year-olds are ready to start school. Some children will be more ready than others, but most are willing to please, keen to fit in and independent enough to be away from you each day.

    School-age milestones

    School-age children are:

    • becoming more social, and learning to share and care for others
    • learning about right and wrong, and winning and losing
    • primed for learning and problem-solving
    • learning to read, write and count
    • curious about how the world works
    • sexually curious and interested in knowing where babies come from
    • into active games like bike-riding, swimming, skipping and playing catch.

    If you are worried about your child’s development, have a talk with a health professional.

    This article is an extract only. For more information, visit  raisingchildren.net.au/development/school_age_development.html.

    Sourced from the Raising Children Network's comprehensive and quality-assured Australian parenting website www.raisingchildren.net.au.


 
 
 
  • Last Updated 31-07-2008
  • Last Reviewed 14-01-2010