Developmental Milestones of Elementary Age Students

Lisa Larsen, LPC
All children go through developmental stages as they grow. Research has taught us that each child follows a relatively predictable set of stages in how they relate to others and approach the world. However, within this framework, how quickly a child goes through these stages depends upon many factors including personality, environment, and culture. It's common for each child to reach at their developmental pace in their own unique timing either ahead of or behind their peers. One child might mature quickly in one area such as physical growth but more slowly in another such as social skills. Teachers live this each day as they monitor the movement in all of these various areas. It's truly wonderful!
As parents, understanding what to expect at each stage and age is crucial for knowing how best to support your child both at home and at school. 
Here's a look at the major developmental, physical, social, and intellectual milestones of our elementary age children:  
Physical: Need lot of physical activity; can only sit for short periods of time
Social: Friendly; chatty; love "jobs"; love being read to
Cognitive: Need to play and explore; love dress up and drama; short attention span
Physical: Better control of running/jumping, need lots of free play, fine motor still tricky
Social: Rule follower; responds well to clear expectations; need empathetic discipline
Cognitive: See only one way to do things; imaginative; think literally; think out loud; learns through exploring materials and play
Physical: Eyes maturing so reading blackboard easier; chew on things as teeth grow; bodies grow rapidly; lots of physical activity; tire easily
Social: competitive & bossy; rush to be first; want and have friends; talkative/noisy; love encouragement; test authority
Cognitive: beginning to understand past/present; begin to see other viewpoints; asks lots of questions; ambitious; learn from hands on projects
Physical: Eyes can focus on small area; can do quiet work longer; copying from board still very hard; can get sick from worrying
Social: Moody; may prefer playing/working alone; rely on adults for help; may change friendships; need routines
Cognitive: Learn new words and meanings quickly; open to learning math; listen well and speak precisely; bothered by mistakes
Physical: Full of energy; play hard; work quickly; do better with several short play breaks than one long one; growth spurt; better control of eyes & hands
Social: Love group activities; prefer playing with same gender peers; like to talk & explain; sense of humor; adjust well to change
Cognitive: Industrious; impatient; listen well but may not remember; excited but nervous about exploring larger world; interested in rules/logic
Physical: Coordination better; boys rough house; push physical limits but tire easily; complain about aches & pains; restless
Social: Very competitive; may hear "I can't" or "Its boring;" like to work with same gender partners; enjoy exaggeration and jokes; need adult lightheartedness and encouragement
Cognitive: Worry about world events, parents, friends; enjoys facts and scientific exploration; love language and word play; enjoy clubs and interest groups
Physical: Large muscle development; outdoor play and physical challenges; lots of snacks and rest; rapid growth; begin using tools
Social: Good age for clubs, sports, and whole group activities; boys and girls work well together; quick to anger; quick to forgive; listen well; enjoy adult recognition
Cognitive: Good at memorizing facts; enjoy collecting/organizing; like rules and logic; can read for longer periods; take pride in school work; enjoy fine arts; enjoy learning to problem solve
I encourage you to learn more about the Developmental Stages and celebrate all the joy and messiness that comes with parenting our amazing children!
(Information adapted from "Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14" by Chip Wood)

Lisa Hellmer, LPC
St Gabriel’s Counselor
St. Gabriel's Catholic School is an Independent Catholic school in Austin TX, educating children in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school.