Your child will experience enormous physical advancements between preschool and adolescence. During this time, children become stronger and more coordinated. While preschoolers are just beginning to gain a sense of physical independence, healthy 9-year-olds have typically developed the motor skills, balance and coordination needed to perform most daily tasks without help. If you are concerned about your child's physical development, talk with your doctor.
Ages 4 to 5
Children ages 4 to 5 are losing their baby fat and developing more muscle. On average, they grow 2.5 to 3 inches and gain 5 pounds per year, according to the medical text "Essentials of Pediatric Nursing." Most 4- to 5-year-olds have developed the physical skills to hop on one foot, walk down stairs, catch a bounced ball and grasp a pencil with a mature grip. They can dress and undress themselves without assistance and take care of their toilet needs. A 4- to 5-year-old may still need a nap during the day and requires about 12 hours of sleep nightly.
Ages 6 to 7
At ages 6 and 7, growth tends to occur at a slow, steady pace. Children this age grow an average of 2 inches and gain 5 to 7 pounds each year, note the authors of "Primary Care Pediatrics." Children at this age can usually ride a bike, skip rope, and catch and throw a ball. Increased fine motor skills enable them to tie their shoes and write legible letters and numbers. Many children lose their first tooth around this age and are very active. They usually enjoy playing with others, participating in games and engaging in make-believe role play. While naps are no longer needed, children this age still require about 12 hours of sleep nightly.
Ages 8 to 9
Children continue steady growth at ages 8 and 9, usually adding a couple of inches and 5 to 7 pounds yearly, according to "Primary Care Pediatrics." They move more gracefully than their younger peers due to more developed motor skills, balance and coordination. Fine motor skills enable smoother handwriting with less effort, and drawing and painting skills advance. Children this age are more social and focused in their play. They typically enjoy physical activities that require concentration and teamwork, like baseball or soccer. Self-grooming begins at this stage, and sleep requirements are about 10 to 12 hours nightly. Although early, some 8- and 9-year-olds show signs of beginning puberty, such as a few pubic hairs or breast buds in girls.
Supporting Your Child's Physical Growth
Every child is unique, so it is important to be patient as children grow and develop physically at their own pace. Most children reach expected physical milestones with time, even the so-called late bloomers. But there are some things you can do to support your child's physical development from ages 4 to 9:
-- Encourage regular exercise and team sports at the appropriate age, which can improve lifelong health.
-- Get your child involved in playing a musical instrument or another activity that requires fine motor skills and dexterity.
-- Help children choose activities that complement their natural abilities.
-- Encourage open dialogue so your child can talk freely about physical changes.
- HealthyChildren.org: Developmental Milestones: 4 to 5 Years Old
- Stanford Children's Health: What Can My Child Do at This Age?
- HealthyChildren.org: Preschool
- HealthyChildren.org: Precocious Puberty: When Puberty Starts Early
- Primary Care Pediatrics; Carol Green-Hernandez, et al.
- Essentials of Pediatric Nursing; Terri Kyle, M.S.N.
- Paediatrics and Child Health: Spotlight on Middle Childhood: Rejuvenating the ‘Forgotten Years'