Primary School Years: Children Age 6 Through 8
Although the life of a primary-age child has changed dramatically with the introduction of formal schooling, developmental characteristics through this period closely resemble those of earlier years. Children are still working hard to understand and construct social relationships, deal with their emotions, and learn about their world through hands-on manipulation of objects and interactions with peers and adults.
Christy is a normal, busy 6-year-old who enjoys practicing newly acquired skills. Although her physical growth has slowed, she likes to test the limits of her body with challenging activities such as acrobatics and jump rope. Christy just got a new bicycle and is working hard to master two-wheeling. Other activities that require good balance such as skating and skiing are also fun for her.
Christy has many friends, most of whom are other girls. Her playmates change regularly, however, with new friends being added and old ones set aside. Christy is making comparisons between herself and her peers, which is leading her to recognize personal strengths and weaknesses.
Although Christy still has some minor articulation errors, she is eager to talk with adults and others. It is hard to get her to be quiet long enough to enter the conversation. Christy is making significant progress in putting her thoughts into writing and enjoys practicing this newfound skill.
Christy’s school days are filled with learning to read and developing early math skills. She is making steady progress with these very complex tasks.
Christy collects rocks and enjoys sorting and classifying them. Although she enjoys simple games in school and at home, winning and losing are very difficult for Christy, and she is happier when they are deemphasized.
At 7, Gordon values his and others’ physical competence. Sports figures like LeBron James and Alex Rodriguez, are important to him. Gordon is a typical boisterous 7-year-old and enjoys rough-and-tumble play with his friends. He needs daily opportunities to engage in active play. Sitting still does not seem to be a part of Gordon’s makeup.
Gordon’s rate of vocabulary development has slowed, but language learning remains significant. Gordon is learning Spanish in an after-school enrichment program and is finding this a fun activity. His ability to communicate in writing is improving steadily, and Gordon enjoys writing long, fantasy-oriented stories to share with his friends and parents. Although Gordon likes to work alone, his overriding desire is to be part of the group. Peer pressure to conform to the in-group expectations is growing. Mood swings are common for Gordon, as well as complaints of not being liked and concerns over competence when he compares himself to peers. Gordon’s thirst for knowledge about the world around him appears boundless. He wants to know how the real things he encounters work, and he spends considerable energy on tasks that interest him. Gordon has mastered the basics of reading and has learned the arithmetic operations of addition, subtraction, and multiplication.
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