Understanding 7, 8 and 9-year-old children:
Children at this age are transitioning from a “little kid” to an adolescent. They have started 2nd, 3rd or 4th grade, are further developing their fine motor skills, coordination and gaining confidence in themselves. The challenge for adults is that because they are developing quickly, we often assume they are capable of more than their actual abilities, so we need to take a step back, appreciate their efforts and not put too much pressure on them. We also need to temper our criticism of them as during this age they are starting to form their opinion on whether adults are trustworthy. The actions we take during this period affect the interactions we will have with our children in their teen and adult years.
Physically: They have improved their fine motor skills through activities like learning cursive. They have developed better coordination in their arms, legs, and core as well as strength. While their balance has improved they may still trip and fall because they are still growing. When we observe this age group in classes, we start to see improvements in their techniques, agility, and power. Individually they may or may not still struggle with performing with precision and accuracy.
Intellectually: This is the age when children begin to think logically but are still developing cognitively and linguistically. They are also somewhat easily distracted if something “interesting” catches their attention. Simple commands will usually be followed but at the same time, they tend to over think things which might cause them to lose focus or forget what they need to do. Sometimes we see this during testing where a student who has performed their techniques perfectly during classes, struggles during the test. This can be due to the larger number of students/parents on the floor which causes them to momentarily lose focus. When this happens, it is important to be patient, support their efforts and encourage them to work through the “brain freeze”.
Emotionally: Children in this age bracket are generally better in controlling their emotions, they are more engaged with their peers and are becoming less self-conscious. They are also more receptive to guidance from adults and are developing the courage to take on new challenges and overcome their fears. This is also the age when they start to develop their self-motivation.
Socially: 7 to 9-year-olds love to interact with others and enjoy the spotlight. They are also easily frustrated when others don’t follow the rules and will readily point that person out even when it’s a parent. They do this because they are starting to understand what is right and what is wrong and are expecting consistency in other people’s behavior. When they get frustrated it’s important that we help them overcome their frustration and explain that while we are happy that they recognize that someone broke the rules and while it’s not fair we are proud that they follow the rules.
Please remember that the Stages of Development are general guidelines and as all children are unique, where they are in their development will vary from child to child.