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Physical Development in Children: Guide to Your Growing Grade-Schooler

Age-by-age guide to physical milestones in school-age kids

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Boys racing on a playground.
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Physical development in children sometimes seems to happen at light-speed. Seemingly almost overnight, your child has morphed from a chubby toddler into a lanky grade-schooler whose limbs seem to be lengthening by the day. During this age of child development, which is sometimes referred to as middle childhood, kids can grow an average of 2 to 2.5 inches each year.

While physical development can vary among school-age children, there are some general guidelines you can follow as you track your child’s milestones.


Physical Development: 5-Year-Old

By age 5, most children:

  • Can hop, skip, jump, and even stand on one foot for a few seconds.
  • Are able to throw and catch a ball (usually with two hands).
  • Can copy shapes such as triangles or circles, draw stick figures, and even print letters.
  • Are more skillful at using a spoon or a fork, and may even be able to cut soft foods with a butter knife.
  • Can brush their own teeth, wash themselves and wipe their own bottoms (though parental supervision and help will still be needed).
  • Begin to lose their baby teeth.
  • Begin to lose fat and gain more muscle.

Physical Development: 6-Year-Old

By age 6, most children:

  • Can show off ever-improving locomotor skills, such running, jumping, skipping.
  • Show improved ability to follow movement patterns, and may even be able to perform some basic dance moves.
  • Demonstrate stronger hand-eye coordination (are better able to kick a ball into a goal or throw a ball at a target, for instance).
  • Can play a musical instrument.
  • Are able to follow rules of a game or sport (soccer, for instance, becomes more meaningful to them than when they were younger).

Physical Development: 7-Year-Old

By age 7, most children:

  • Can ride a two-wheeled bicycle.
  • Are able to perform movements that are done while standing in one place such as twisting, turning, spinning.
  • Show improved skill at performing simple chores, such as making the bed or sweeping the floors.

Physical Development: 8-Year-Old

By age 8, most children:

  • Can combine locomotor and motor skills more fluidly (turn, spin and jump -- such as in basketball).
  • Continue to demonstrate improvement in coordination.

Physical Development: 9-Year-Old

By age 9, most children:

  • May begin to experience early signs of puberty (girls usually display signs around age 8 or 9; boys are more likely to enter puberty a bit later, around age 10 or 11).
  • Experience a growth spurt, getting significantly taller and gaining more weight.

Physical Development: 10-Year-Old

By age 10, most children:

  • Can demonstrate improved agility, speed, coordination and balance.
  • Begin to show signs of puberty such as oily skin, increased sweating and hair growth under arms and on genital areas.
  • Experience a voice change (usually more noticeable in boys).
  • Are able to perform more complex household tasks such as cooking or doing laundry.
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