The first year in primary school could be an eventful year for both the child and parents. Both get used to each other's absence for relatively long hours and the initial transition phase may be difficult for both. The child is now regularly exposed to the 3 Rs- reading, writing and arithmetic. New relationships at school start developing. This is also an age where sicknesses increase due to infections. Frequent visits to the pediatrician are common. Children this age start understanding complex situations but still view the world in terms of black and white.
We now take a look at domain specific milestones.
Physical development- Physical Development includes the mastering of movement and balance and the development of both gross and fine motor skills.
Gross motor skills involve the use of body's big muscles and fine motor skills involve the use of small muscles.
Gross motor skills: In addition to the earlier skills,
- A good sense of balance develops.
- The child enjoys testing muscle strength and skills.
Fine Motor skills:
- Writing and designing skills improve.
- The child can catch small balls.
- She can manipulate scissors and small tools.
Language- A child is exposed to language even before his birth as language development begins with hearing and hearing begins in the mother's womb. Language development is the ability to listen, understand the spoken word and express oneself verbally.
- Language becomes sophisticated and pronunciations become clear.
- Can now express ideas clearly.
- Likes to tell jokes.
- Learns about 5-10 new words daily.
- Sense of tense in grammar is well developed.
- Begins to enjoy reading.
- Language becomes a tool to express even negative emotions and thereby physical outbursts reduce.
Cognitive- Cognitive development is the ability through which a child learns to reason, solve problems and think systematically. It includes the development of all skills pertaining to learning and thinking.
- By the age of 7, the child understands the difference between reality and fantasy. Uses more logic and reason in thinking.
- Most children learn to read and write by 7.
- Memory is organized and continuous.
- Concentration and attention span increases. Impulse control is better.
- Can count numbers up to 200 and count backwards from 20.
- Can understand the value of money.
Social Emotional- Social and emotional development go hand in hand as the development in one area often has an impact on the development in the other. Social development is the ability to interact and communicate with others and develop and maintain relationships. Emotional development is the ability to express and manage our emotions. Development in this area has a direct impact on the self esteem and self confidence of the child.
- Wanting to win and tweaking rules for the same persists.
- Emotional sensitivity to criticism, blame and punishment also persists.
- New relationships at school help the child to learn sharing, taking turns, co-operating with others and accepting responsibility for actions.
- The child acquires a sense of humour but may not understand sarcasm.
- A sense of competence develops but parents' affirmation is always sought.
- They now have a ‘best friend'.
- Want friends to like and accept them. Enjoy sharing toys and snacks with friends.
- This age marks the beginning of empathy. An understanding of what others might think and feel starts developing. However this process takes a very long time.
- They enjoy caring for younger children.
Parents need to be accepting of the apparent clumsiness and selfishness that might accompany this age. It is also a natural tendency of children to blame others, especially mothers if things go wrong. Though it helps to ignore at times, setting clear rules and limits is also important.
Reading with the child is most important at this age. Also important is providing opportunities for decision making. Minor decisions like clothes to be worn, menu for dinner may be encouraged. Choices may be narrowed down and then the child may be asked to decide. Parents also need to model being a ‘good loser' when playing. They may also help the child to develop and maintain friendships.
Predictable routines are important for the child to develop a sense of stability and security. Independence can be developed by assigning small chores in the house. Encouragement as always is crucial.