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Child Development in Young Kids:
Time For School!

Young kids change rapidly once they become school children. We'll look at some of the developmental milestones in young children and lots of tips to inspire you on your parenting journey.

In many countries, young children start school at five - many having attended pre-school/kindergarten for part of their earlier years. What can your five year old do physically by this stage?

Milestones for Young Kids
  • Holding a pencil properly and show reasonable control: tracing letters, and mostly colouring inside the lines.
  • Young Children can reproduce many shapes, triangles, circles, squares etc.
  • School aged children can start to use diagrams to assemble constructions - lego, three dimensional building blocks.
  • Young kids can use scissors and mostly cut a straight line.
  • Most school kids probably have a dominant hand by now.
  • They are able to balance on either foot.
  • School children can skillfully ride a tricycle, and many young children learn to ride a bike at this stage.
  • By five, your child can jump, hop, skip fairly confidently.

The ABCs

Two young school boys reading Many young children have learnt to recite the ABCs, but don't really have much of a concept about what the letters represent. They may recognize their name and a few other words. However, by school age, young kids start to understand upper and lower case letters, and increasingly gain enough understanding to read and write.

Initial writing is usually copying, but as their vocabulary increases along with their cognitive abilities, they start to be able to figure out words and attempt to write them. Spelling of course is not a skill at this stage.

Parenting Tips For Young Kids You are going to get this one over and over!! I can't over emphasize the importance of reading. Read constantly to your young kids, anything with words, when doing the shopping, when clearing the junkmail from the mail box.

Write them little notes with pictures and have them try to figure out what it says. I had great fun being the tooth fairy. I still have some of the tiny letters I wrote - with fairy phonetic spelling! (maybe I'll publish them one day!).

I used a pencil because I could get a sharper point and could write tiny, tiny words. I used the child's name and told a little story about the adventure to collect the tooth. For years my kids were convinced it couldn't be me because the writing was so small. (my apologies to all the real fairies that can write correct English!)

Anyway, my point is, if you can read you can learn, and that opens so many doors.

Young Kids and Numbers

Young children start to develop better cognitive abilities. Counting, perhaps up to 100, and recognizing numbers.

A school child can start to learn to tell the time, and can relate daily activities to a time frame. They start to understand a calendar - moving from how many 'sleeps' until Christmas, to understanding months.

Young kids start to understand money, recognizing the various coins and understanding purchase power!

Parenting Tips For Young Kids Now is an excellent time to begin prosperity training! Although, don't forget you will have been demonstrating your prosperity consciousness from your child's birth (perhaps even before!) Maybe check what you have inadvertently been saying around money! Do you complain when bills arrive? Do you moan about not having enough money do to things? Don't expect your young child to develop a fantastic prosperity consciousness if you haven't!

Teach young kids to dream build what they want to buy and save for it. Teach them about investing 10% or tithing. They can easily learn to earn money at this age. When my son was four he was determined to buy a little BMX bike from the corner bike shop. He saved and saved and kept talking to the owner, finally making an arrangement to pay it off! (I did have to go guarantor) It was a real lesson for me, in creating what you want, and he learnt heaps about keeping focused on his dream, saving, earning money, making payments on time etc.

You can read the whole story in my chapter in Amanda van der Gulik's free book: Allowance Secrets: To Give or Not to Give? Amanda asked a range of experts their opinion on whether or not to give kids an allowance. You will find heaps of ideas and inspiration in this incredible free resource. You will also be offered Amanda's Insider Secrets To Teaching Children About Money. I would highly recomend this guide as a fabulous resource to teach children all aspects about money; creation, responsibility, entrepreneurship, and much much more.

Click here to get your copy of Allowance Secrets

School Kids and Conceptual Development

There are a lot of more complex cognitive development that happens from now on in young children. They start to understand comparisons and relationships.

for example:

  • Which glass has more water? Which has less?
  • Rank or order things from Smallest to Biggest; Shortest to Tallest etc.
  • Group things by shape or size, or with two categories, such as all the round red objects, all the tiny yellow pieces.
  • Can understand positions, First, Second, Last; Oldest Middle, Youngest etc.
  • Can understand simple fractions, how many pieces if the cake is cut in quarters?

Parenting Tips For Young Kids Going on a Quest

Young children are full of questions and so eager to learn. Take lots of opportunities to take them on little adventures to find out about stuff. The internet has made this a lot more instant, it is easy to google something.

But don't stop there, take them to the local library when they ask about dinosaurs. Visit a museum when they hear about Egypt. When they have been doing art, take them to a local art or sculpture exhibition. Visit a retirement village, a fire station, a hospital. See if there are factories in your area that run tours.

Language Development

Your school kid will have a Vocabulary of approximately 1,500 words! He can put them into sentences using around seven words at a time. School age children start to understand tense; went, swam, and start saying things like "I jumped", instead of "I jump" (adding ed to verbs).

Young kids can tell a story, first from looking at the pictures in a book and telling something familiar, then beginning to make up stories about an event or pictures.

Humor starts to develop at this stage, telling jokes and playing tricks is a favorite (and yes, you do have to laugh even though you have heard it ten times already!) Humor is one of the hardest things for speakers of other languages to pick up. Even very competent English or Spanish speakers have difficulty picking up humor (and sarcasm) in a language that wasn't their first. The younger the child is in learning a second language, the more familiar it will be. Young kids pick up languages far easier than adults!

Social Interaction

As a young child's language develops, their social skills also increase. Being able to communicate verbally increases the interaction - but don't dismiss the importance of non verbal communication. Your young kids will start to develop close friends, sometimes having a best friend. The ability to play co-operatively increases, sharing toys and ideas and taking turns. Young kids imagination is wonderful, and some of their games are full of incredible play-acting.

Middle School Years

Two young girls laughing with missing teeth One of the obvious physical changes, is loosing teeth!
Click here for my tip above about the Toothfairy!

There are often rapid changes in height and most school age children gain about 4.5 lbs or 2 kg per year in body mass.

Physical control becomes greater, and most young kids enjoy lots of vigorous physical activity - sports, ball games, riding a bike, swimming. (not me, I could mostly be found hiding between the bookcase and a chair, reading!).

Many children at this age have trouble sitting still. A good teacher will balance expectations of quiet, concentrated time, with time to let off steam! School Kids Drawing

Fine motor skills increase, with school kids developing greater abilities with writing, drawing, and assembling detailed models. Your child's concentration span increases, particularly when they are interested in something.

School kids have fun with problem solving and sorting activities like puzzles and mazes and word find games. As young children get older they become more self-sufficient, tying shoelaces, packing their own schoolbag, remembering to take a special item to school.

Rude Words and Tricky Questions

As young kids grow up, they start to explore more complex language, and start experimenting with slang and swearing, often finding rude words hilarious. You will sometimes have almost adult like conversations and discussions about things they are curious about. They will start to ask the hard questions, such as questions about death and dying or why some children in other countries don't have a house or enough food.

This can be a real challenge to parents! Try to be as honest as you can. If you are not sure about what you believe, then say that. Young children pick up on your confusion or uncertainty anyway and will just keep asking more questions!

Parenting Tips For Young Kids How did I handle some of those trickier questions that I didn't have a definitive answer for? We would go and find out - what did other people think/believe, what did different religions teach about it? And discuss those answers.

You don't need to be the font of all knowledge, your child will grow up to make up their own mind about a lot of stuff. Just teach them to research and enquire and question. I believe that is far better than giving them absolute answers. I still believe that the more we as adults question and enquire, the more we open up possibilities and opportunities.

Should You Give Your Young Kids An Allowance?

Free Book!
Worth $47
Free Book, Allowance Secrets. Teaching Kids About Money
Get your free copy of Amanda van der Gulik's Allowance Secrets: To Give or Not to Give?

I was honored to be a contributor in this wonderful resource for parents. Heaps of other experts and inspirational writers give their tips and opinions on Allowances for kids. It's a fascinating read!


If you are interesting in looking at alternatives to traditional schooling for your young kids, check out our pages about Homeschooling and Unschooling. We even have a mini forum where you can ask other parents questions or contribute activities.

What is the advantage of homeschooling your young kids?
This article talks about the advantages of homeschooling, and how to minimise the cons, such as social isolation and getting support.

Readers Contributions and Questions from Parents about Homeschooling
Articles and Questions from other parents, discussing the pros and cons of homeschooling. Ask Questions, post your reply, share your experience. We have even had a young boy write in and give us his perspective.

Unschooling, a more radical approach to homeschooling
This article explores Unschooling and how it differs from more conventional homeschooling.

Share your homeschooling activities here!
What homeschooling activities are other parents doing with their children? Get inspiration and share your success stories.

Importance of Reading To Children
The title says it all! Read about how important reading to children is, and lots of tips and ideas of how to broaden and make reading fun.

Teaching Children to Read
Lots of ideas for teaching kids to read, make it fun, drop the pressure!

List Of Childrens Books
Help me spread the word about the importance of reading, and let's build a huge list of recommended childrens book, reading resources, parenting books, and book reviews.

What's Next?

From Young Kids to Pre Teens
Is your daughter 11 going on 18? This article looks at the wonderful world of pre-teenagers. Just before they blossom into adolescence.

Click here for Information and tips about Adolescent Psychology.
What's happening in their head? How are they feeling, what's important for Teenagers?

Adolescence: Physical Development.
Information about Physical Development and Sexuality in Teenagers and of course, tips to inspire you.

Resources for Parents

Super Skills 4 Kids
Is our home study course designed to help young kids set goals, envision the future they want, and achieve anything! If a child wants to work on a behavioral goal, Super Skills is a perfect tool, or they may want to learn a practical skill like giving talks in class.

Super Skills 4 Kids is packed with tools and comes with a bonus workbook. I've had many parents say they use many of the techniques for themselves!

Disciplining children.
For more ideas on how to discipline a child read my article on disciplining young kids and teens.

Do Children Misbehave?
More ideas on handling misbehaving children, and understanding their needs.

Ask Annie
Online Coaching with Annie - Do you have a question about your young kids? Need some help with behaviour issues or challenges with school?

You can also read what other parents are asking, and comment on our readers contributions, or my answers. Lots of tips and gems in these.

Click the link above and scroll to the bottom to read what other parents have asked.

Annie Recommends

There is so much confusing information out there about parenting, it can be hard to know how to cover all bases.

If you are worried about your child's development in some areas, or want some ongoing expert parenting tips, then check out Dr Rosina's Inspired Children - Life Skills for Kids.

She has a carefully designed membership program that will give you activities and advice, delivered to your inbox each week/fortnight (depending upon membership level).

Each activity is designed to help your child develop key life skills like good self esteem, managing emotions and behaviour, health, nutrition, dealing with bullying and so much more.

Benefits for Parents
  • Stop feeling guilty about not spending time with your child
  • Know your child is learning key life skills
  • Stop worrying
  • Know rather than hope that your child is on the right track
  • Curbs undesirable attention seeking behaviours in your child
  • Know that your time is quality time doing the activities with your child
  • Educational as well as fun
  • Sense of satisfaction at the positive difference you are making in your child?s life
  • Creates an opportunity for you to bond with your child
Benefits for Children
  • Creates a strong platform for a happy, balanced and successful life
  • Helps them to know you are interested and care
  • Develops self confidence
  • Develops resilience
  • Develops independence and practical life skills
  • Improves their ability to communicate
  • Develops emotional intelligence
  • Helps them to feel happier and most importantly, helps them to feel more loved!
  • Educational and fun

Dr. Rosina McAlpine is an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney, and has received numerous awards for her work in education. Her program is a holistic approach to child development spanning 7 key areas of life.

I think this is a great resource for busy Moms - it takes ages sifting and sorting what your child needs, or finding a great activity that has a good learning focus for your kids. It covers all bases, and makes it easy to spend quality time with your kids, knowing they are learning valuable skills that will be with them for life. Life Skills For Kids would also make a great resource for homes-schoolers.

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Click N Kids would have to be one of my subscribers most popular programs, and from what they say, it is mostly because the kids have fun while they are learning. In fact they don't even realize they are learning! Click N kids are using the Looney Tune Characters now in their phonics program, which of course kids just love.

We find delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ask Annie Your Parenting Questions

In Depth Parent Coaching Online.
Your Questions and my Answer become a page here on our website, so together we inspire and help other Parents.

Super Skills 4 Kids

As a Parent Coach, I love empowering and inspiring parents, but it is much more rewarding to see children learning skills that will set them up for life.
Annie Desantis

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Annie Recommends

Unstoppable Me!: 10 Ways to Soar Through Life Dr Wayne Dyer teaches children how to hold on to the no-limit thinking he believes they were born with, rather than just trying to fit in. In doing so, they can learn to truly enjoy life and become unstoppable as they strive to attain their dreams.

Incredible You!: 10 Ways to Let Your Greatness Shine Through Dr Wayne Dyer believes that it’s never too early for children to know that they’re unique and powerful beings, and that they have everything they need within themselves to create happy, successful lives.

It's Not What You've Got!: Lessons for Kids on Money and Abundance The concepts presented in this beautifully illustrated book include: Money does not define who you are; it doesn't matter what others have, and abundance comes in many forms.

Unlike most books on this subject, It’s Not What You've Got, is not a how-to manual on spending and saving for kids, but rather a positive, spiritual approach to the meaning of money.


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In Depth Parent Coaching Online.
Your Questions and my Answer become a page here on our website, so together we inspire and help other Parents.

I've always loved this poem by A A Milne written in 1927! I think there is a lesson here for us Adults; being a six year old is pretty exciting!

Now We Are Six

When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five, I was just alive.
But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

Free Parenting Games
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Free Family Games

Our Parenting Games Series are designed to support you to be an Inspirational Parent.

Highly Recommended
Kids Books

Lilly The Lash

This delightful series is sure to inspire you. Lilly The Lash, is an eyelash fairy, making the world a better place!

Visit her website, she has lots of activities as well as beautiful books.

Hay House, Inc.

This lovely story is about a boy with a seemingly impossible dream who almost lets excuses, or limiting beliefs stop him achieving his dream.

He discovers, as will your child, that by following a few simple ideas and eliminating excuses . . . anything is possible!

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