As children begin elementary school, they also show important advances in both thinking and language skills. They become better at logical thinking and problem-solving. They are motivated, active learners. School-age children begin to learn bigger words, to produce longer and more complex sentences, to manipulate language in new ways, to learn subtle exceptions to grammar rules and to understand their native tongue much better.
Child care providers in out-of-school child care programs can support the development of thinking and language skills in young school-age children by providing a variety of activities that challenge children's problem-solving abilities without overwhelming or frustrating them. Remember that even in elementary school children learn best through active, hands-on experiences and self-directed play. Building in time for in-depth play will help your schoolagers develop their language and thinking skills. The following milestones are common markers of developing thinking and language skills in children ages 6 - 8.
Between the ages of 6 and 8, most children:
- may reverse some printed letters (such as b and d)
- may enjoy planning and building complex structures
- may have large increase in speaking and listening vocabularies
- may show a stronger interest in reading, but reading skills develop at different ages in different children
- may show an increase in problem-solving abilities
- may have a longer attention span, may be able to focus their attention on a complex task
- may enjoy creating elaborate collections (bugs, stamps, flowers, baseball cards)
- may learn to reliably distinguish left from right
- may begin to understand time and days of the week
- may start to use logic to solve problems
- may recognize that some changes can be reversed, while others cannot
- may become better at deductive reasoning (All dogs are mean. Rex is a dog. Therefore Rex is mean.)
- may become good at identifying the essential and non-essential properties of an object. For example, a spoon must have a bowl, but does not need to be made of metal.
- may start to be flexible in classifying objects and understand that a single object can belong to more than one category
- may still have trouble understanding abstract concepts such as freedom, patriotism, or persecution, except by using concrete examples
For More Information
To learn more about the development of school-age children, and to find activities and materials that support their development, take a look at the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles:
If you are looking for specific activities to use with school-age children, check out the Hands-on Activities for Child Care and Story-Stretching Ideas for Child Care searchable databases.