Your child is now officially “school-age.” Some experts call the 5 to 8-year age range “middle childhood.” They are becoming more independent, and their physical, social, and mental skills are developing quickly! There are a number of eight year old milestones to start watching for.
As they start school and other activities outside the home, children begin to interact more with the larger world. Many development experts consider this stage to be a critical time for kids to develop confidence and independence through avenues like school, friends, sports, and clubs.
Development milestones outline how children typically grow and learn. Of course, each child grows and gains skills at their own pace. It’s common for some kids to be quite advanced in one category and lag behind in others. Here are the typical milestones that children in this age group usually reach by their eighth birthday. Your child might have already mastered some of these skills before their eighth birthday, others might take a little longer to reach 8 year old milestones. If your son or daughter hasn’t reached these milestones by their eighth birthday, we suggest contacting your pediatrician or family doctor for more information.
Movement, Sensory, and Motor Milestones
School-age children tend to settle into more predictable physical growth of about 3 to 4 inches per year. Prepare to help your kid celebrate losing their first baby teeth, which many people treat as a sort of “right of passage” into middle childhood.
Your child probably enjoys a wide variety of activities and likes to stay busy. Most children in this age range are pretty coordinated and graceful with their movements and abilities.
By this age, kids certainly have likes and dislikes, so don’t worry if your child doesn’t prefer sports or physical activity. However, by age eight, kids should be coordinated enough to skip, jump rope, and ride a bicycle. Children should also be able to throw a ball and hit a target about 5 feet away fairly consistently. (Of course, it helps that their vision is now fully developed by this age!)
It’s common for very active kids in this development stage to engage in roughhousing, wrestling, and skirmishes.
Sensory and motor skills
By age eight, most kids should be nearly independent in their self-care tasks of bathing, dressing themselves, and tying their shoelaces. Generally, your child should have the coordination and skills to keep themselves clean and groomed, even if you occasionally need to do “quality-control” assessments.
Now that your child is writing and drawing, they should use the more traditional “tripod grasp” when holding a writing utensil (holding the pencil between the thumb, index, and middle fingers, with the pinky and ring fingers curled into their palm).
School-age children should be copying letters and numbers accurately, especially by their eighth birthday. Most kids can draw diamonds and fairly detailed characters with at least 16 features.
Generally, by age eight, kids can complete multi-step tasks and even help with age-appropriate jobs around the house. Chores and tasks instill a feeling of importance and teach children responsibility. Family chores also teach teamwork and help kids continue to develop their sensory and motor skills.
Language and Cognitive Development
By their eighth birthday, your child should have a well-developed vocabulary of at least 2,000 words, and strangers should understand them when they speak.
Your eight year old should be able to consistently make all the speech sounds from their native language and correctly follow most grammar rules. School-age children typically read close to their grade level and develop a sight-word vocabulary of about 100 words. For some children, reading is a favorite activity.
While their verbal skills are probably well developed, kids often take a little longer to master spelling and grammar skills in their written language.
Kids in this age range often enjoy telling stories. Whether they’re telling you about their day or making up a fairytale, they should be able to relate a well-told story that is easy to understand.
One blessing and a challenge of this development stage is that children often begin to discuss ideas and develop their own opinions. You probably enjoy watching your child recognize other people’s perspectives and form their personal views of their world. However, you might also notice your child start to challenge social rules, even if they continue adhering to them.
Reasoning and thinking skills develop quickly in this age range. Most children by age eight can count by two’s, count backward, and complete simple single-digit addition and subtraction problems.
Though their logic and reasoning skills are developing quickly, at this age, many children have a very “black-and-white” view of things. Things are either good or bad, ugly or beautiful, terrible or excellent. This is because they mainly focus on one trait or aspect at a time, which makes it challenging to process complex issues.
Kids can usually recognize other people’s perspectives or opinions, even if they have a hard time sympathizing. Most eight-year-olds can distinguish between behavior and intent, as well.
Social And Emotional Development
Learning to interact well with others is an essential part of growing up. Every kid is unique, with very distinct personalities that impact their social preferences and emotional development. So, these common behavioral traits might look different from one child to the next.
Regardless of personality, parents often notice their child maintain multiple friendships and create more complex social groups during the middle-childhood years. Kids enjoy being around their friends and often place a high value on the opinions of their peers. Unfortunately, peer pressure might also become an area of concern as children seek to fit in and earn the approval of other kids.
Many experts observe that five-year-olds often want to be around their parents more than four-year-olds. But by age eight, kids who are developing strong social and emotional skills usually prefer being around their peers more than their families.
Many children benefit from participating in group activities like sports, Scouts, 4-H, and other youth programs. These clubs and activities help kids develop healthy social and teamwork skills and become more independent.
You may begin to notice some “rollercoaster” emotional swings in your child. Even though your child is getting older, they are still learning how to control their emotions and express themselves appropriately. Angry outbursts and rapidly changing emotions are common. Some kids even seem dramatic and rude at times.
Your child may become impatient, finding it hard to wait for things they really want. Though they might become very critical of others (including parents and other family members), they do long to feel connected with their parents and families.
Kids at this age are often very interested in money. Some children become fixated on earning and saving money.
As children develop critical thinking skills, they may begin to push back against the rules. School-age kids are more likely to follow rules they help create.
Because personality plays such a critical role in social and emotional development, it can be challenging to determine what is “normal” for this age range and your child. It would be worth expressing concerns to teachers or health professionals if you consistently notice any of these traits:
- No interest in playing with other children
- Unable to take turns or cooperate with others
- Extremely “rigid” about routines and tends to become upset by small changes
- Has difficulty doing things independently of parents or trusted family members
By this age, your child should be eating a variety of tastes and textures from all the food groups. Three meals a day and two snacks as needed are usually more than enough for active, growing kids. As always, it’s critical to teach kids how to eat a well-balanced, healthy diet.
As your child loses baby teeth, they may find it difficult to eat some foods for short periods (like corn on the cob after losing their front teeth).
Your child should be able to eat with the rest of the family and eat whatever the family eats. Kids often enjoy social meals with family members or friends, and they should be able to begin and end the meal with everyone else.
When To Be Concerned
Remember, milestones provide a general guideline for when children typically develop specific skills. Every child learns at their own pace, and masters skills on their own timeline. If your kid seems to be especially lagging behind their peers physically, emotionally, socially, or cognitively, we recommend speaking with your pediatrician or health care provider.
If you notice that your child’s social skills seem to be holding them back or they are not on par with their peers, or if your kid frequently struggles to manage their emotions, it would be wise to talk with their teachers and healthcare professionals.
Children who lag behind socially or emotionally may need a little extra support. Still, early intervention can be critical to a faster and more complete resolution. Our team of professionals can identify any developmental delays and create an appropriate plan of action to help your child reach the appropriate milestones. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to schedule a consultation.