Country Life Blog

How Can I Support My Child's Developmental Needs?

Remember when your child was a baby? When you took note of their every first: first step, first smile, first time rolling over, first word? Although those first developmental checkpoints may be well behind you; as a caring parent, you still attend to predictable milestones to gauge your child’s physical, cognitive, and social/emotional development.

Developmental milestones are a set of functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children can do at a certain age range.

Developmental milestones offer important clues about a child's developmental health. Reaching milestones at the typical ages shows a child is developing as expected. Reaching milestones much earlier means a child may be advanced compared with his or her peers of the same age.
Developmental growth includes not only the physical changes that occur from infancy to adolescence, but also some of the changes in emotions, personality, behavior, thinking and speech that children develop as they begin to understand and interact with the world around them. Skills such as taking a first step or smiling for the first time are called developmental milestones.  

Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, act and move. All children develop at their own pace, but these milestones give you a general idea of the changes to expect as your child grows. -
Excerpted from CHOC Health
As partners in your child’s education, Country School Kindergarten-5th Grade teachers share their classroom observations of how they see students mature over the course of the academic year and offer suggestions about ways to support your child physically, cognitively, and socially. 

For easy reading, the following list (supplemented by Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14, 3rd edition, by Chip Wood, CRS, 2007)  is divided into three categories: physical, cognitive, and social/emotional. The list is further divided by grade.

How to Support My Child's Developmental Growth

List of 5 items.

  • How can I support and enhance my child’s language development?

    Don't use baby talk; instead, elevate your child's vocabulary by modeling. Read to them–no matter their age. Get off your phone and you talk to them, go beyond asking closed-ended (yes/no) questions and instead ask them to describe and explain. Have device-free time together, especially at dinner or while in the car.
  • How can I support my child’s developmental thinking?

    Help your children learn their math facts and meet them where they are instead of expecting them to be developmentally where you think they should be.
  • How can I support my child’s social/emotional growth?

    It may not be the popular answer, but learn to say no to your child. Children thrive on routine and structure, and developmentally they will also try to push these boundaries. Teach your child about appropriate disappointment; they are in control of themselves and nobody else. Model emotional literacy and regulation constantly. Use emotive vocabulary, “I see that you are getting frustrated trying to zip your jacket,” as you make observations about their behavior which will open the door for further communication about how to problem solve. Children will learn to regulate themselves through adults that are also regulating their own emotions. Find ways together to relax and reset so that children develop tools for calming down when emotions get big. We find that beginning in 4th Grade, children place great value on what their friends think of them. They seek their peers’ approval. As parents, try to get your child to realize who they are and who they want to be instead of creating a false identity only to impress others. Keep the door open for children to discuss changing friendships without fear of judgment. Model healthy boundaries for relationships so that children know it is okay to step away from a friendship if they are not comfortable or respected.
  • How much sleep should my child get each night?

    Children aged 5-11 years old require 9-11 hours of sleep to maximize their mental and physical growth and development.
  • What are the best ways to support my child in creating a healthy body image?

    This is all about honest and open communication. Have self-awareness about what you say in front of your child. Take advantage of sitting down to meals as a family and practicing mindful eating as opposed to constantly eating on the run. Model proper nutrition and how to make healthy choices. Be sure to not label food as good or bad, but that there are choices that help your body feel strong and do the activities you like to do. As your child gets older and is faced with unrealistic body images, be obvious with your observations. Take these opportunities to teach your child about unnatural and unattainable beauty standards. Finally, speak candidly with your child about puberty. These lessons are best coming from home first; then teachers can reinforce those lessons. Don’t be afraid to initiate the “birds and the bees” conversation.

How to Support my Kindergarten - 5th Grader's Developmental Milestones

List of 3 items.

  • Language/Cognitive Milestones

    Cognitive development is critical to a child’s growth. It describes how a child’s brain  develops and includes skills such as thinking, learning, exploring and problem-solving. It also affects other areas of a child’s development, including language and social skills.
    Kindergarten 4-6 years old
    • Kinders show increased independence by zipping, learning to care for own belongings, and following established routines. 
    • Their motor skills continue to improve with scissor cutting, gripping a pencil, and playing with Legos–all activities that strengthen hand muscles.
    • Their vocabulary grows as they take risks trying words that they hear - excited to practice
    • Kinders’ complex problem solving skills are developing; they are building confidence by breaking things down into smaller chunks.  
    • They are learning to share ideas, wait turn, listen, and appreciate differences of opinion. 
    • Still very literal and concrete in their thinking, they can’t always distinguish reality from imagination.

    1st Grade 5-7 years old
    • Inquisitive, 1st Graders are beginning to show increased independence. The year begins slowly with clear step-by-step instructions. Each month, teachers give and students show more independence as they begin to practice right and wrong ways of accomplishing tasks. 
    • As learners, 1st Graders enjoy using concrete manipulatives. They approach tasks in a sequential manner and are beginning to attend to multi-step directions.
    • As texts get more challenging, their reading level grows, naturally bringing more complex vocabulary.
    • They are learning to form thought-out opinions and practice forming them through writing activities, and discussions about books.
    • A talkative group, they are eager to share their ideas.
    • They are beginning to understand time (past and present) and cause and effect.

    2nd Grade 6-8 years old
    • Second Graders are expanding their vocabulary by engaging in read alouds, word study exercises, and writing stories. Teachers routinely question students about what the words in their reading mean.
    • Hands-on STEAM and engineering activities provide children with complex challenges that students have to authentically solve by working together, breaking things down step by step, using trial and error, making predictions, and being okay if their proposed solution doesn't work.
    • Second Graders demonstrate tenacity as they form opinions and practice increased independence as they continue with their routines. They slowly grow into running the class’s morning meeting and greeting as the year progresses. At the beginning of the academic year, the teacher posts a daily agenda, but as the year goes on, the students become independent in reading the agenda and take care of it accordingly. 
    • They are improving at following oral directions and then written directions. 
    • Second Graders are beginning to discover their learning styles and to share them with their peers. For example, one kid is trying coding so another tries it too. 
    • Formal operational thinking continues to improve in math class with bar modeling. Singapore math requires students to think more deeply about mathematical skills and concepts and to articulate their understanding and how they have reached a solution or used a strategy. 

    3rd Grade 7-9 years old
    • Impatient and often overzealous, 3rd Graders remain egocentric in their thinking. 
    • Teachers use multiple tools to help children discover their learning styles and since play is so important, a good example for kinesthetic learners learning the multiplication table would be to shoot a basket with each one correct. Teachers understand giving students a variety of choices that might help point them to their learning style.
    • Their vocabulary continues to grow. Kids have recall; they recognize, acknowledge, and incorporate new vocabulary into their speaking and writing.

    4th Grade 8-10 years old
    • Fourth Graders demonstrate empathy.
    • Less egocentric, they begin to look beyond themselves and better understand different perspectives.
    • Although they are becoming increasingly independent, they are still reliant on teacher help.
    • Word study lessons help their vocabulary grow.
    • They are learning to form opinions as demonstrated when they explain how they solve complex math problems.
    • They honoring their peers’ ideas, and respect their school rules.

    5th Grade 9-11 years old
    • Egocentric thinking continues to lessen.
    • Social, they are beginning to broaden their social circle, electronically they are also more social with each other. They enjoy sharing their ideas and share their study tools with each other. 
    • They demonstrate increased independence and crave responsibility like classroom jobs.
    • They take opportunities to share their opinions during discussions, in written work. 
    • Their executive functioning skills improving as they are planful with their thinking prior to class and come prepared with notes. They are also beginning to become aware of the importance of time management, how they learn best (beginning to understand the terms “visual and auditory learners”) they experiment with test-taking strategies, and learn that there is more than one way to do something and that is ok. 
    • Their vocabulary continues to grow as they develop a vocabulary that is content related. These teachers expect students to "speak like a historian."
  • Physical Milestones

    Physical milestones mark how the child develops large motor skills and fine motor skills which they can sit, stand up, crawl, and walk.
    Kindergarten 4-6 years old
    • These energetic children need physical activity.
    1st Grade 5-7 years old
    • They have improved motor skills as evidenced by shoelace tying.
    • Noisy, active, and energetic, they need physical activity and may tire easily.
    2nd Grade 6-8 years old
    • They are becoming physically more coordinated.
    • Their writing is small.
    • They are able to engage in sustained silent work.
    3rd Grade 7-9 years old
    • By this age, their fine and large motor skills improve and they are beginning to work quickly.
    • They are still full of energy but tire easily as they are going through growth spurts.
    4th Grade 8-10 years old
    • Fourth Graders show improved fine motor skills as they learn cursive.
    • They like to push physical limits; tire easily and often report aches and pains.
    • They can be restless.
    5th Grade 9-11 years old
    • Signs of puberty begin at this age.
    • Fifth Graders’ muscles are developing quickly; they need physical challenges as well as rest and proper nutrition.
    • They enjoy precision tasks.
  • Social/Emotional Milestones

    Social-emotional milestones focus on children's developing abilities to regulate their attention, emotions, and behavior, and to form positive relationships with adults and peers.
    Kindergarten 4-6 years old
    • Kinders seek attachment and approval.
    • They engage in parallel play and love having classroom jobs.

    1st Grade Grade 5-7 years old
    • Competitive, they are easily upset or discouraged.
    • They seek friends and work well in small groups.

    2nd Grade 6-8 years old
    • Second Graders are risk-averse and rely on adults to set rules, routines, and physical boundaries
    • They are beginning to form close friendships.
    • They work well alone and in pairs.

    3rd Grade 7-9 years old
    • Friendships remain important to 3rd Graders.
    • They are concerned with fairness, enjoy group work.
    • “Be You” is a book Country School teachers read to their 3rd Graders.
    • Social, they like to talk and explain their ideas.

    4th Grade 8-10 years old
    • Fourth Graders are more able to sustain focus on a task.
    • Competitive, anxious, and critical.
    • Cliques begin to form.
    • Given a choice, they prefer to choose their own work partner. Groups can lead to arguing.

    5th Grade 9-11 years old
    • Quick to anger and to forgive, 5th Graders demonstrate empathy as they learn about forgiveness and that the word "sorry" isn't always enough. They have a maturing sense of right and wrong and understand that mannerly behavior, a way to earn self respect, doesn't come naturally and must be taught.
    • They are contributing group members who listen well, explain ideas, and are eager to problem-solve
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Founded in 1955, The Country School is a coeducational, independent school serving students in PreSchool-Grade 8. The Country School is committed to active, hands-on learning and a vigorous curriculum that engages the whole child.