School-age development


6-8 years9-11 years12-14 years15-17 years
Cognitive Can complete instructions with 3 or more steps

Can count backward

Knows left and right

Tells time 
Can use common devices, including phones, tablets, and game stations

Writes stories and letters

Maintains longer attention span 
Develops views and opinions that may differ from parents’ ideas

Grows awareness that parents aren’t always correct

Can understand figurative language

Ability to think logically is improving, but prefrontal cortex is not yet mature
Internalize work and study habits

Can explain their positions and choices

Continues to differentiate from parents 
Social and emotionalCooperates and plays with others

May play with kids of different genders

Mimics adult behaviors

Feels jealousy

May be modest about bodies
May have a best friend

Can see from another person’s perspective

Experiences more peer pressure
May become more independent from parents

Displays moodiness

Increased need for some privacy
Increased interest in dating and sexuality

Spends more time with friends than family

Growth in ability to empathize with others
LanguageCan read books at grade level

Understands speech and speaks well
Listens for specific reasons (like pleasure or learning)

Forms opinions based on what’s heard 

Can take brief notes

Follows written instructions

Draws logical inferences based on reading

Can write about a stated main idea

Can plan and give a speech
Can use speech that isn’t literal

Can use tone of voice to communicate intentions; i.e. sarcasm
Can speak, read, listen, and write fluently and easily

Can have complex conversations 
Can speak differently in different groups

Can write persuasively

Can understand proverbs, figurative language, and analogies
Movement/Physical Can jump rope or ride a bike

Can draw or paint

Can brush teeth, comb hair, and complete basic grooming tasks

Can practice physical skills to get better at them
May experience signs of early puberty like breast development and facial hair growth

Increased skill levels in sports and physical activities
Many females will have started periods

Secondary sex characteristics like armpit hair and voice changes continue

Height or weight may change quickly and then slow down
Continues to mature physically, especially boys

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