School Age

As children begin school, they start to mature in many different ways. With this time period comes a host of new challenges including the development of self-confidence, making school choices, and others

Milestones of School Age Children

Physical Development

  • Physical growth is slower during this time period than at other times
  • Brain reaches full size and becomes more efficient
  • Better immunological resistance
  • Puberty may begin as early as 7 in some girls (so be prepared), see Parenting and Child Sexuality Page

Cognitive Development

  • Move to concrete operational stage
  • Less likely to fall prey to centration
  • More adult-like in thinking

Education Milestones

  • Age 5 – count to 20
  • Adding/sub 7-8
  • Multiply by age 9
  • Early reading by age 6, chapter books by 8-9

Milestones for Moral and Spiritual Development

  • Early on, morality is more about, External Motivation – “Letter of the Law”
  • By the Mid to End of School Age, children have Internal Motivation – “Higher law (principles)”
  • Children reach the age of accountability
  • Cognitive advances allow children to know right from wrong

What Parents Can Do To Encourage Moral Development

  • Work within the child’s zone of proximal development
  • Allow for or create opportunities to debate moral issues
  • Help children become good critical thinkers, especially about moral issues
  • Support your child if they decide to take up a cause

What Parents Can Do to Encourage Spiritual Development

  • Ease into gospel practices such as Fasting (ex. Fast one meal instead of two starting off, or substitute favorite breakfast for something else)
  • Remind children of the why behind their spiritual actions (ex. ask, “What are you fasting for?”
  • Encourage reading of the scriptures personally

Some Relevant Concerns for School-Age Children

Determining Kindergarten Readiness

You may wonder if your child is ready to take that first big step into kindergarten. The following can help you determine if your child is ready.

  • Talk to a preschool teacher or doctor
  • Visit a kindergarten class
  • Can your child follow instructions?
  • Can your child sit still for short periods of time?
  • Can your child put on a coat and go to the bathroom?
  • Can your child recite the alphabet and count?
  • Can your child hold a pencil and cut with scissors?
  • Does your child show interest in books?
  • Is your child curious about learning new things?
  • Does your child get along well with other children?
  • Can your child work together in a group?

Other Resources

Developing Self-Confidence

  • Remember, at this age children are going through Erickson’s industry vs. inferiority stage and are tryign to develop a healthy self-concept
  • Components of healthy self-concept
    • Sense of Belonging with family and friends
    • Sense of worth (worth is different from worthiness)
    • Sense of Competence

What Parents Can Do To Encourage Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem

  • Have your child try lots of different activities (different sports, music, arts, sciences) and find one they can excel at and feel good about
  • Focus on the process and coaching Skills
  • Don’t hold up a standard that is unreachable at first. Bite size pieces.
  • When children get discouraged, make sure the demands of the situation are not overwhelming, and help them keep working on it
  • Avoid over praising because it results in the need for extrinsic motivation, praise effort rather than performance
  • Provide a variety of activities that capitalize on children’s strengths
  • Encourage children to explore their interests, not yours.
  • Try summer camps. They are a great way for kids to try things out without commiting to a long-term commitment

Other Resources

Dealing with Child Aggression

Types of Aggression

  • Overt/Physical – Hostile and intentional; bully or hurt to get something you want
  • Relational/social – Hurt to damage peer relationships/friendships

What Parents Can Do

  • In younger children, ignore (not responding vehemently negatively) aggressive behavior that is attention seeking i.e. they are doing it for attention. (ex. Say, “I don’t understand you when you talk to me like that or hit me. I can listen when you are ready to act nicely”)
  • If they are hurting others besides you, do something immediatly
  • Teach children that aggression does NOT get them what they want
  • Model behavior
    • Don’t say demeaning things about others
    • Forgive and forget
    • Don’t use psychological control (notic difference between, “I’m not talking to you because you are angry”, rather, “I can listen to you when you are ready to speak kindly”)
  • Teach children the importance of including everyone

Supplemental Materials for School-Age Children

Understanding Gender Differences

This section details some general differences between genders. It should be kept in mind however that “there is as much variability between gender as there is within gender” (Laura Walker).

  • Play Style
    • Boys: more rough and tumble play, less intimite friendships
    • Girls: friendships center around mutual activities and smaller confined settings, more intimate friendships
  • Communication
    • Boys: more verbal, more joking, bragging, heckling
    • Girls: more expressive, agreeable and softer

Tips for Parents

  • Gender socialization won’t impact your child’s gender identity or sexual orientation (Ex. If your boy wants to paint his toenails for fun, let him and don’t worry!)
  • Allow both boys & girls to express emotions (ex. don’t encourage boys to be so tough they lose emotional expression ability)
  • Encourage mixed friendship groups during late childhood
  • Allow your child to develop his or her own interests.
  • Help them be androgynous.
  • Help them follow Christ, he exemplified both all of the best traits, male and female. Help children be Christ-like

Avoiding Over-Scheduling – Yourself and Your Children

This time of life can be extremely busy. Here are some LDS resources to help you keep the right perspective and focus on the most important things in life:


Good Reads



Note for Author: For information not provided in links, see 2017 personal notes on lecture about the schol age kids from SFL 240 class