Physical development in school-age children

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During the school-age years, your child is acquiring the fundamental skills to lead a healthy life as an adult. Find out more about this developmental phase, and whether your child is on track to achieving specific milestones.

Key points

  • School-age children who stay physically active will strengthen skills such as agility, balance, coordination and endurance.
  • Encourage your child to participate in a sport or activity. These can help to strengthen agility and coordination.

The school-age years are a time of steady growth and development. Staying physically active during this developmental phase will strengthen the fundamental skills needed to lead a healthy and active life as an adult. These skills include, but are certainly not limited to, agility, balance, coordination, and endurance. Learning and developing these skills will also have a tremendous impact on your child’s confidence and self-esteem, as well as providing them with an ongoing sense of accomplishment and independence.


5- to 6-year-olds

  • Gain up to 2.3 kilograms (five pounds) per year
  • Grow approximately 8 centimetres (three inches) per year
  • Demonstrate a preference for being right-handed or left-handed
  • Can colour between the lines, print name legibly, and manage fasteners like zippers, buttons, and snaps independently
  • Can catch and throw a medium-sized ball from 1.5 metres (five feet) away
  • Can manage playground equipment independently, such as pumping legs on a swing
  • Develop enough muscle coordination to climb, swim, and skate

7- to 8-year-olds

  • Weight gain speeds up
  • Sleep up to 11 hours a night
  • Begin riding a two-wheeler bicycle without training wheels
  • Can use a pair of scissors to cut out complex shapes
  • Permanent teeth begin to appear
  • Improved hand-eye coordination (can bounce and catch a tennis ball)

Parenting tips

  • If your child is showing an interest in a particular sport or activity, encourage them to join an organized or recreational league. Team sports are an excellent way to strengthen agility and coordination.
  • Walk or ride a bike to the nearest park to kick or throw a ball around.
  • The winter is a great time to stay active. Skiing, snowboarding, or skating can improve balance, endurance, and agility. But there are inexpensive ways to have fun in the winter, too. These include walking in the snow, making snowmen, building forts, and making snow angels.
Last updated: December 14th 2011