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Development through Play: 5 to 8 Year Olds

What to expect in your Child's Development between the ages of 5 to 8

As children start ‘big school’, they will start to master new skills like reading and writing. They will also get better at problem solving and friends will become increasingly important to them as they grow.

5 to 6 Years

At school children will be in a new environment, surrounded by lots of peers to play with. They will start to have best friends (although these might change on a daily basis) and will continue to enjoy role playing as a group. As part of their games children might start using their reading, writing and maths skills, e.g. setting up a shop and using money, or writing a menu for a café.

The hand muscles and control (known as fine motor) will have got much better, so children will be able to control a pencil to start writing letters and words. Creative activities – like painting and using play doh – are fun and can help continue to strengthen these fine motor skills.

Their new learning environment and improved reading ability will increase children’s vocabulary. When reading together, encourage your child to read parts of the book to you, and discuss the story, for example, relate it to their own experiences, or ask questions about what is happening. Reading will also help your child learn to spell.

Children will love running around the playground or the park, testing their physical capabilities. Stronger muscles and improved coordination mean they can run, jump, skip and more. They can also start learning to ride a bike, which will help to give them a little bit more independence and build their confidence. 

7 to 8 Years

As thinking becomes more complex, children start to solve problems by predicting what will happen, rather than simple trial and error. They also have better patience and attention, so if they don’t get it right the first time, they will keep trying. Children this age will really enjoy a mental challenge, such as puzzles and strategy games.

Having a circle of friends is becoming more important for a child’s identity, and children will prefer to play with others of the same gender. Team sports are also popular as children become physically stronger and more competitive, so now is a good time to join a sports club.

Imaginative play will become more planned, and as memory improves, stories will continue over days and weeks. Small world play sets can encourage this. Children will start to create more detailed art work too, experimenting with colours and styles, and focusing on details (like the colour of a person’s hair in a portrait). Craft sets that make it easy for children to create a personalised piece will build their confidence and give them a final product to be proud of.

At school, children will be learning about lots of different topics, and will probably have a favourite subject (and a least favourite too!). Subject related toys and apps – like science kits and trivia games – can support your child’s education in each area and encourage an enthusiasm for learning.