A child between the ages of 7 and 12 years is fairly independent when it comes to physical activities, and his coordination and stability continue to improve over time. His body is also going through many physical changes as he prepares to enter his teenage years. You may find yourself wondering what to expect from a child his age. You can become familiar with his milestones, growth and changes in order to understand how to best encourage his physical development.
According to Healthy Children from the American Academy of Pediatrics, by 7 years of age your child will be able to jump, skip, walk on her toes, use scissors, draw people, bounce a ball several times, skate, ride a bicycle and dress herself independently. By age 9, she has the physical ability to learn to sew, and by age 10 she can catch a ball thrown high in the air. As she approaches age 12, her balance and coordination will only continue to improve. She will develop a preference for using one hand over the other and can play a musical instrument.
Healthy Children states that between the ages of 7 and 12 years, a child appears slimmer than he did in his younger years due to a change in the accumulation of his body fat. You can expect him to gain about 6.5 pounds a year as he continues to grow. You will see more growth during periods of growth spurts, typically around 8 years of age. To ensure his proper physical growth, he needs to eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet.
The physical growth rate between boys and girls is about the same at this age, according to North Dakota State University. The difference in size won't come until the later adolescent years. However, boys will develop their gross motor skills faster than girls, which include large movements like running and jumping. Girls will develop their fine motor skills, such as handwriting and hand-eye coordination, before boys do.
Puberty is a large part of physical development for a child in the 7 to 12 year range. North Dakota State University states that girls can begin puberty around age 8 years, which consists of a growth spurt and breast development. Menstruation follows a few years later, around age 11 or 12 years. Boys begin puberty around 9 years of age, and Children, Youth and Women's Health Service states that puberty for boys is not as drastic as it is for girls. Boys will experience pubic hair, enlarged testes and a deeper voice.
It is important for parents and teachers to encourage physical development for school-age children. Kids Health from Nemours states that children should partake in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week. The 60 minutes can be broken up into 15- or 30-minute intervals and should include planned and unstructured activities. Team sports at school offer a way for children to exercise, but any physical activity will benefit her health and encourage her skills.
- North Dakota State University: Supporting Physical Growth and Development in Young Children
- BabyCenter: Raising Boys and Girls: Differences in Physical Development
- Healthy Children: Physical Development of School Age Children
- Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service: Child Development: 10-12 Years
- Kids Health from Nemours: Kids and Exercise