Fourth and fifth grade can be years of change in many ways. Typical developmental milestones at these ages often revolve around a child’s changing body, the need for independence and a desire to be accepted by peers.
If you’re not sure what to expect at this age, learn how 10-year-olds and 11-year-olds typically develop. This can give you a better idea about whether there are possible trouble spots to discuss with your child’s teacher or pediatrician.
Your child’s body is working hard as puberty approaches. Most boys and girls grow steadily, only to speed up by age 11 or 12. Girls and boys start developing at different rates. Girls tend to have their growth spurt between ages 9 and 11, while boys have theirs between ages 11 and 12. Most kids in fourth and fifth grade:
- Have an increased appetite and need more sleep (Explore tips to get your child on a healthy sleep schedule.)
- Use one hand and foot much better than the other (“Right/left dominance” starts at around age 7 and is set around fourth or fifth grade.)
- Develop hand-eye coordination quickly (This also may be when you notice your child’s need for glasses.)
- Show improvement in handwriting and the ability to use tools
- Complain of growing pains or muscle cramps
- Start showing signs of puberty such as hair growth or oily skin; girls may have weight gain or redistribution and boys’ voices may start to change
Learn more about how coordination and motor skills develop at different ages.
Kids this age typically start being able to think more about abstract ideas and not just about things they can observe. The ability to organize thoughts and to plan improves, too. However, it’s still hard for your child to sort facts from opinions. Most kids:
- Realize that thoughts are private and that people see others differently than they see themselves
- Start predicting the consequences of an action
- Can argue more than just one side of an issue (Discover ways to help your child learn to self-advocate, not just argue.)
- Begin to use social media, friends and the news to get information and form opinions
- Develop a better sense of responsibility; look out for younger siblings and help out around the house
- Start understanding how things are connected; are able to understand the effects of climate change, for example, or how the behavior or mood of one person in the house can impact everyone else
Take a look at the unique learning challenges of fourth grade.
Social and Emotional Milestones
Fourth and fifth graders have a very active social and emotional life. At this age, your child may be trying hard to find her own talents while also trying to be and look like everyone else. Kids at this age often:
- Are uncertain about puberty and changes to their bodies
- Are insecure or have mood swings and struggle with self-esteem (This tends to be more pronounced in girls.)
- Test limits; try to figure out which rules are negotiable and which are not
- Are increasingly independent from family and have a growing interest in their friends
- Form stronger and more complex friendships (Discover ways to help your child to connect with other kids.)
- May face strong peer pressure and find it hard to resist if they struggle with self-esteem (Learn how to give praise that boosts your child’s self-esteem.)
- Have a deeper understanding of how relationships with others can include more than just common interests
- Have a first crush or pretend to have crushes to fit in with peers
Learn more about social-emotional skills to expect at different ages.
Ten- and 11-year-olds have varying levels of maturity, physically and emotionally. They may reach milestones earlier or later than expected. If you have concerns about your child’s development, it’s a good idea to check in with her doctor. Think, too, about sharing your concerns with your child’s teacher.
And take a look forward at developmental milestones for middle-schoolers.