Physical Development in 5 to 10-Year-Olds

Children running in park
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Your child's physical development seems to happen at warp speed. Seemingly almost overnight, your child has morphed from a chubby toddler to a lanky grade-schooler whose limbs seem to be growing every day. During this stage of child development, referred to as middle childhood, kids can grow an average of 2 to 2.5 inches per year.

All children develop at different rates. Although physical development varies among school-aged children, there are some general guidelines you can follow as you track your child's milestones.

Physical Development of Your 5-Year-Old

By age 5, most children:

  • Can hop, skip, jump and even stand on one foot for a few seconds
  • Are able to throw and catch a ball, usually with two hands
  • Can copy shapes such as triangles or circles, draw stick figures and even print letters
  • Are more skillful at using a spoon or a fork, and may even be able to cut soft foods with a butter knife
  • Can brush their own teeth, wash themselves, and wipe their own bottoms though parental supervision may still be needed
  • Begin to lose their baby teeth
  • Begin to lose fat and gain more muscle

Physical Development of Your 6-Year-Old

By age 6, most children:

  • Can show off ever-improving locomotor skills, such running, jumping and skipping
  • Show improved ability to follow movement patterns, and may even be able to perform some basic dance moves
  • Demonstrate stronger hand-eye coordination and they are better able to kick a ball into a goal or throw a ball at a target, for example
  • Can play a musical instrument
  • Are able to follow rules of a game or sport. Soccer, for instance, becomes more meaningful to them than when they were younger

Physical Development of Your 7-Year-Old

By age 7, most children:

  • Can ride a two-wheeled bicycle
  • Are able to perform movements that are done while standing in one place such as twisting, turning and spinning
  • Show improved skill at performing simple chores, such as making their bed or sweeping the floors

Physical Development of Your 8-Year-Old

By age 8, most children:

  • Can combine locomotor and motor skills more fluidly. They can turn, spin and jump, such as in basketball
  • Continue to demonstrate improvement in coordination

Physical Development of Your 9-Year-Old

By age 9, most children:

  • May begin to experience early signs of puberty. Girls usually display signs around age 8 or 9; boys are more likely to enter puberty a bit later, around age 10 or 11
  • Experience a growth spurt. Your child may get significantly taller and gain more weight

Physical Development of Your 10-Year-Old

By age 10, most children:

  • Can demonstrate improved agility, speed, coordination, and balance
  • Begin to show signs of puberty such as oily skin, increased sweating and hair growth in the genital area and under the arms
  • Experience a voice change; this is usually more noticeable in boys.
  • Are able to perform more complex household tasks such as cooking or doing laundry

What to Do When Your Child Isn't Meeting Benchmarks

Physical development occurs on an entirely individual basis. If your child has yet to master skills their peers already have, it's usually just a matter of time until they hit the benchmarks. Rarely does this indicate a larger issue, nor is it a reflection of "bad" parenting. Still, you shouldn't ignore your concerns about your child's developmental trajectory. Meet with your child's teacher or doctor to discuss your concerns.