Getting to know me

12th September, 2017
Lauren Stretch

In the foundation phase of your child’s school adventure, you won’t see as much of a dramatic change in your child’s motor skills as you would have noted in the first six years. This is because the phase that they are now entering is a period of refinement. You will begin to identify improvement of concepts, sharpening of skills and a perfection of specific tasks and activities. You will also start to notice remarkable changes in social and thinking skills. Your child is now building on the base of competencies developed during early childhood and moving towards intellectual and emotional independence.

For the majority of children during this stage, things are either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, and through play, children are expressing feelings, using creativity and their imagination, and are making sense of the world around them. Another trait you will see is your child beginning to seek independence and developing strong friendships, and with these friendships will come further developments in social skills.

This is a critical time for children and you should see them developing confidence in various areas, such as friends, schoolwork and extramural activities.

Here are some of the milestones you can expect of a six-year-old:

Physical Development

The natural physical development of children at this stage is tied strongly to playtime and exercise, which means limits must be established for screen time. This is the age in which motor skills are becoming refined, and are introduced to organised sports.

   At this stage, children typically:

  • Refine coordination of large and small muscles and hand-eye coordination
  • Draw and write with greater control and precision
  • Move in time to a beat, or rhythm of music
  • Ride a two-wheel bike
  • Have better balance and coordination
  • Learn sports involving good physical control

It’s never too early to get your child on the path to a healthy lifestyle. Here are some activities that can help children this age in their physical development, and establish sound fitness habits.

  • Provide opportunities for a variety of physical activities, including family activities such as bike rides, hikes and active games.
  • Make sure your child has one hour or more of physical activity each day.
  • Be a role model by eating healthy at family mealtimes and having an active lifestyle.
  • Limit time for watching television, playing video games and playing on the computer to no more than one hour per day. That will lead to more active and intentional play.
  • Teach your child about nutrition, and involve them in food shopping, as well as the planning and preparing of meals.
  • Provide balanced meals.

Social and emotional development

By this point, children have moved from solo play to group interaction and creating relationships with other children. New relationships at school accelerate the evolution of social skills and emotional development, children of this age begin to develop crucial life skills such as sharing, taking turns, cooperating with others and accepting responsibility for their actions. They are also able to reason.

  You will find that your child:

  • grows more independent, yet feels less secure
  • craves affection from parents and teachers
  • friendships are unstable; can be unkind to peers
  • needs to win, and may change rules to suit themselves
  • may be hurt by criticism, blame, or punishment
  • can be rigid, demanding, and unable to adapt
  • increasingly aware that others may have different feelings

  As a parent, you can help your child by:

  • Assisting them develop a sense of responsibility by assigning household tasks such as setting the table.
  • Making clear rules and sticking to them.
  • Using discipline to guide and protect your child, rather than punish.
  • Supporting your child in taking on new challenges, and encourage them to solve problems on their own.
  • Helping them learn patience by letting others go first or by finishing a task before going out to play.
  • Encouraging your child. Your consistent approval and guidance are keys to their self-esteem.
  • When your child is feeling a strong negative emotion, teach them to take a breath and count to 10. It is important that children are taught how to act when they feel a particular emotion. Emotional intelligence is essential and a core life lesson for children to be able to manage their emotions.

And Finally

Remember that although the milestones mentioned here are typical, children pass through these stages at their own pace. Some will be earlier, some a little later. Discuss any concerns you may have about your child’s development with a paediatrician or teacher.