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Physical Developmental Stages for Elementary Students

by Andy Humphrey

Children go through significant physical changes during their years in elementary school. Between the ages of 5 and 11, boys and girls grow steadily, gaining about 30 percent in height and doubling in weight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their coordination starts as uneven but reaches nearly adult levels by the time they leave elementary grades. Parents should be aware of typical development so they can spot problems but shouldn't obsess over every milestone. Children often develop unevenly, gaining one skill at the expense of others but catching up later.

5 Years Old

Children in kindergarten are learning to control their balance. They can stand on one foot or on tiptoes with their eyes open though may lose balance with eyes closed. They can ride a bicycle, although still need training wheels, and can skip. This is the age that right- or left-handedness becomes apparent. Their fine motor skills have improved and they are able to color within lines or cut along a line, but they struggle with pasting or tying knots.

6 to 7 Years Old

Children in this age range have substantially improved balance even when their eyes are closed. Skipping has evolved to the point they can play hopscotch. They tend to be constantly physically active during the day and because of this need around 10 hours of sleep per night. They can ride bikes without training wheels and run smoothly. Their fine motor skills have reached the point that they can tie their shoes and draw recognizable but simple images.

8 to 9 Years Old

Coordination has improved to the point that children are capable of rhythmic and graceful movement. They become interested in competitive sports. Children tend to develop a slouch around this age as they crouch over schoolwork. Their fine motor skills improve and they are able to hold pencils and tools more delicately, giving them finer control. Around this age they don't have a clear sense of their limits. They are prone to overdo physical activities and to suffer injuries by misjudging their abilities. They are unable to balance energetic and quiet activities so parents should encourage their kids to slow things down at times, particularly before bed.

10 to 11 Years Old

As children near the end of elementary school they have developed nearly adult-level coordination. Growth slows and boys and girls are around the same size. In this age range, development is less about skill building and more about puberty. Both genders start to develop pubic hair. Girls' bodies become more rounded and they may start to menstruate.

About the Author

Andy Humphrey has been a professional writer for more than 10 years, covering projects from online articles to technical papers and software manuals. His broad background includes extensive knowledge of computer hardware and software, and experience raising a child with multiple disabilities. He holds a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering.

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