You may have mastered managing toddler tantrums and preschooler proclivities, but big-kid behavior is a whole other ball game. Learn what milestones to expect during the school-age years.
By Rebecca Phillips
What defines a big kid?
A big kid is a child between kindergarten and second grade (ages 5 to 8), with big kids being considered school age around ages 5 to 6. These years are filled with new milestones, new interests, new social needs, and new academic developments.
As your child enters the school-age and big-kid years, your focus will likely be less on issues at home (such as sleep or discipline) and more on issues at school, both academically and socially. During these school years, your child will learn to read, develop routines, understand complex directions, and learn to interact with peers one-on-one and as part of a team. Growth and development milestones include losing baby teeth and getting permanent teeth, continued muscle development, better hand-eye coordination, and the ability to sustain physical activity for longer time periods.homework environment for your child by making sure he has a clean, well-lit workspace, all the school supplies his teachers require, and a quiet atmosphere. As your child gets older, homework should be a priority; completing it will help teach discipline, problem solving, and time management skills. Homework also helps your child practice what he learned during the day to be certain he understands concepts. Give your child enough time to do his work, and always turn off the TV, avoid answering phone calls in the same room, and remove other distractions, like computers or video games.
Parents can set their child up for success in school by creating the right environment at home. Make sure your child gets enough sleep at night so he is well rested and able to stay alert throughout the school day. Ensure that he eats a full breakfast and a substantial lunch, so that he?s not distracted by hunger during the school day. Give him a diet rich in nutrients, good fats, complex carbohydrates, and protein to keep his brain active and keep midday sugar cravings at bay. Finally, show your child you're there for him during these years -- to answer questions about homework, to help him master new skills, and to guide him through unfamiliar social situations. Encourage good behavior in school by creating an environment that fosters good behavior at home. "As a child learns at home to respect limits, [this] will translate ... into the classroom environment," says Amy McCready, a discipline expert and founder of Positive Parenting Solutions.
As your kid makes more friends, always know who they are and get to know their parents, which will help you stay connected to your child and protect her from certain dangers. "When they start school, it's easier for kids to become disconnected from their parents and to participate in a private world. It's important to know what?s going on in his friend's home -- who is home, who is watching the kids, and what the child is exposed to," says Meg Meeker, M.D., a pediatrician in Traverse City, Michigan and the best-selling author of six parenting books.Bullying has become national news in recent years, and it is wise to do whatever you can to protect your child from physical or emotional harm. Although it may be tempting to call the parents of the bully, most experts agree it?s better to leave these dealings to the school administration. Make sure your child's teachers and principal know about your concerns, and follow up with them to find out how they are handling the situation. See if your child's school has anti-bullying programs in place; otherwise, take these steps to protect your child further:
Most children won't experience puberty until their preteen years, but some do experience what is known as "precocious puberty," when a child's body starts to change before age 8 (for girls) and age 9 (for boys). Some children may require medication to delay this rapid onset of development. Otherwise, the normal onset of puberty can happen any time between the ages of 8 and 12. Many children may wonder if they are normal or if they're developing at the right pace. Reassure your child that everyone develops at her own pace. Giving your child a book to read on her own will help her understand her development and answer questions she may be too embarrassed to ask you. Popular books like the What's Happening to My Body series by Lynda Madaras, or newer guides like The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls, from the American Girl Library, can make growing children feel more secure about their changing bodies and set the stage for your discussions with them about sex and development.
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