The Development Of The Primary School Child

At elementary school age, kids start to develop rapidly on the psychological, social and spiritual levels. The body has passed its first growth phase: Now it’s time to develop strength of character and a first understanding of the adult world.

Elementary school children gradually learn what matters in life. They are confronted with situations in which they have to solve problems on their own and can no longer rely solely on the support of their parents. Suddenly, they are expected to perform.

This time is not always easy for parents and children. Nevertheless, the elementary school years are especially important for the child’s development.

Social Development

While kids in kindergarten interact mainly on a playful level, things are a little different at school.

It’s a whole new, unfamiliar situation for kids when they have to stand up for themselves in front of others for the first time by giving a presentation or solving a problem on the blackboard. But social development begins long before that moment. In the preschool class, kids gradually learn that you can’t always just look out for yourself. Suddenly, it’s necessary to abide by certain agreements and rules that apply to the entire class.

Depending on what they are used to from their home upbringing, kids react very differently to this challenge. Therefore, each child makes different amounts of progress and has their own key moments in social development.

Kid tip: Try to think back to the time of the first week of school. A lot has changed in your class since then, right? Take a moment to reflect on past conflicts and arguments. Have you learned anything? Your classmates probably treat each other very differently now than they did when you first started school. In some situations, older elementary school children are mean and selfish. On the other hand, they are better able to put themselves in the shoes of others. This shows that your class has evolved over time: your classmates are changing as much as you are.

Learning Through Social Play

Younger children usually play quite freely and without (explicit) rules. They play whatever is fun and helps the kids balance themselves out. While some children play all by themselves, other kids engage with their peers. At around five years of age, however, play behavior usually changes. At this time, children begin to role-play in situations and characters that are still largely unknown to them. In the process, social interaction comes increasingly to the fore. Children who participate in role-playing normally have a fairly strong self-image. They have developed their own personality and are now able to move away from their self.

With role play, the play group embarks on a fantastic journey. For in addition to realistic scenarios, are increasingly a sense of fiction and fantasy. Role play thus promotes both creativity and flexibility in children. Imagination benefits, which at the same time inspires the ability to empathize with others.

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Entering school-age brings changes in play behavior. The so-called rule games suddenly become more interesting, while more imaginative game variants fade into the background. It is true that there is little opportunity to give free rein to the imagination in rule games such as memory or tag. However, the value of playing by the rules lies in experiencing basic social principles and dealing with failures as well as successes. Children learn painfully during this time that cheating does not exactly lead to sympathy within the class. On the other hand, they learn why fairness and rules are so important in adult life.

The older the kids get, the more complex their favorite games become. But not everyone “gets it. Those who have a limited capacity for comprehension and cannot process information quickly enough will feel the effects when learning a new game of rules. It is, therefore, all the more important to offer such kids the opportunity to grasp and practice the rules of social games often enough.

The game in class has exactly this goal: Kids who already know the game or are particularly wiff, must practice in patience. Kids who are less aware of the game or who are new to the class are challenged to be self-confident and to make an effort.

Working And Learning As A Team

Modern approaches to teaching science are based on a good mix of different methods. These include frontal teaching, individual and partner as well as group work, presentations, station operations, free work and more. The relatively short attention span of the children can thus be used in the best possible way: With a varied mix of methods, even kids with poor concentration won’t get bored quickly. The popular partner and group work also serves to try out and learn how to work as a team.

Shy kids have to make an effort to come out of their shells a little more, and those with strong self-confidence learn to cooperate with others without overriding them

Importance Of Friends And Family

As kids get older, their peers seem to become more of a priority. Kids suddenly don’t want to store for underwear with mom, but prefer to go on shopping trips with their friends. Some situations in which kids are out and about with their parents they find embarrassing. They want to show the outside world that they are slowly growing up and are no longer dependent on their parents.

In disagreements with parents, arguments such as “But Susi is allowed to do that, too. Her parents allow her.” It is clear that the child is trying to test its limits. It values the opinion of its peers highly and wants to assert this with its parents as well. If these react with incomprehension, then it can come already once to whining persuasion attempts on the part of the children. If that doesn’t help either, the kids console themselves with the fact that the parents are “stupid” anyway and sometimes proclaim this idea loudly.

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Long-suffering parents should not take the associated teenage behavior too seriously and still try to find compromises.

Despite all the embarrassing touches in the presence of their peers, one thing is certain: Mom and Dad are the most important people in children’s lives (even if they would never openly admit it in front of their friends).

Detachment And Self-assertion

At a fairly early age, schoolchildren begin to notice that they are slowly becoming detached from their parents. Intuitively, they seek proximity to their peers in order to exchange ideas and spend time together. The importance of parents now changes for the child. Slowly they realize that they are not always right and that they are only human.

With this detachment comes a certain independence in the child’s life. In time, it will have to deal with its own affairs and make decisions. For example, if the child receives an invitation to the neighbor’s birthday party, it must decide for itself whether or not to accept it. Of course, he still values his parents’ opinion highly. Nevertheless, the feeling of wanting and ultimately having to decide for oneself makes itself felt.

Toward the end of kindergarten, kids want to choose for themselves what they wear. After all, they are already big. This can lead to morning conflicts and stress. But almost all parents and kids have to go through this phase sooner or later.

The sudden insistence on their own independence is not least due to demanding social situations between the children. While romping around the playground, when parents are not present, kids get involved in conflicts. There are discussions about who is allowed to swing and who has to wait. This and similar topics of dispute lead to the child learning a certain amount of self-assertion. Depending on his or her character, the child will become increasingly assertive and stand up for his or her own interests. It is inevitable that this change will also be reflected in domestic interactions.

At elementary school age, children want to explore and express their identity. This can result in parents being criticized or children being “rebellious”. Harsh words may be used because some kids at this age have not yet developed a good sense of their boundaries. Despite these arguments, parents come first in children’s hearts.

When parents demonstrate consistent behavior and act consistently, they are rewarded not only with love, but also trust from their children. This is because as children grow older, they expect their parents to behave correctly. More specifically, children demand everything from their parents that the parents in turn demand from the kids.

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Inconsistent parents are punished with sayings like “That’s not fair!” and the like. This is not least due to the fact that kids want to feel the guidance of their parents shortly before and during puberty. According to the principle of trust pedagogy, “Show me that you are strong. Then I will follow you.” This is because the child no longer feels quite so secure – now that he or she is gaining insights into the complexities of adult life. This makes it all the more important to have the appropriate support in the family. This consists not only of a loving relationship, but should create trust through consistency.

Physical Development

At elementary school age, the first growth phase of toddlerhood is already over. Children continue to grow, but much more slowly than before. They gain around six centimeters and several kilograms per year. At this age, the children are still clearly recognizable as such. However, the childlike pattern has already given way to more adult features.

Changes Before Puberty

Growing can hurt. This is also true of the changes in children’s teeth. The loss of milk teeth and the regrowth of permanent teeth is a relatively unpleasant affair.

While the growth of the remaining bones rarely causes problems, some aches and pains can arise as the dentition develops. Some kids have to wear braces, while others suffer from toothaches caused by regrowing teeth and cavities in baby teeth.

As for the body, the suppleness of the musculoskeletal system also changes. At the same time as motor skills improve, the child gradually masters more and more movement sequences. In exuberant recess play in the yard or on the sports field, the kids can well live out their pronounced need for movement. Space for romping is more important than ever at elementary school age and should not be ignored in view of increasing mental demands and the lack of free time.

At the end of the elementary school years, the first signs of puberty become noticeable, especially in girls. For boys, this phase of life can occur much later.

The onset of puberty also marks the end of childhood. The child now becomes an adolescent. In most cases, it also wants to be called such and insists more than before on being integrated into the adult world. Not least, the physical changes to his body prove the pubescent offspring right: he has long since ceased to be a child.

Mental And Psychological Development

The mind and brain of elementary school students continue to develop at a rapid pace during the first years of school. Anyone who is allowed to go to school is ready for school (previously also called school-ready). This means that they have the necessary physical, but also mental and social prerequisites to master their new tasks without any problems.

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Language And Comprehension

Even before the first reading lessons, most kids have good language skills. In their everyday life so far, they have learned to communicate more or less well with their environment. These skills are gradually built up over the following years until the child eventually has a large vocabulary, linguistic confidence and word fluency.

However, despite school influences, the family environment plays a key role in the child’s language development. It is one of the factors that determines the complexity and expression of the child’s language. It is important to be aware of this fact in order to support the child as much as possible in language learning.

The Child’s Self-image

In the face of numerous, new performance requirements and social borderline situations, the child develops his or her own self-image. If he receives sufficient recognition and his strengths are valued, he can develop a healthy self-confidence. This makes it possible for him to represent his limits to the outside world and even to defend them if necessary.

In addition to praise and reprimand from teachers, elementary school children take the opinion of their parents very seriously. Hardly any child does not want to please his parents (even if his behavior would allow a different conclusion). This makes it all the more important to show the child his or her strengths again and again. In this way, it finds the necessary support in its search for its self. And only those who know themselves can survive in social interaction.

Assuming Self-responsibility

A plus in independence requires more self-responsibility. The more freedom the child is given and the more independent he or she becomes, the more clearly he or she will feel this law. For example, if the child makes an appointment with his or her friends, he or she is expected to be reliable. Whereas in infancy parents were still responsible for everything, elementary school children have numerous opportunities to experience the importance of responsibility. Not least because of this phenomenon, the opinion of friends and acquaintances becomes much more important. After all, anyone who acts unreliably or irresponsibly by standing up to friends, not keeping promises, or spreading lies is not welcome even among children.

During this time, kids therefore need to slowly learn how to deal with criticism without handing over responsibility to their parents. It helps to feel the support of parents without being overly “protected” by them from peer criticism. The open, honest conversation between parents and child is therefore particularly important.

Photo: AlexBannykh /

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