School Age Kids
These not so little ones are older than 5 but not yet teenagers. This is another period where there is a lot of change for you and your child. She is learning to use her independence in the world. Starting school is her first step into doing things without your help. Promoting wellness and supporting her through these years will help her become a successful young adult.
Transitioning to Big Kid School
Kindergarten can be scary, exciting and fun all at the same time. Help your child ace this transition by educating yourself about the different types of schools available to you, including homeschooling. His education should match his thinking and learning style. Even within a family, not all children adapt well to the same school types. As your child goes through preschool, work with his teachers to get an understanding of the type of school that best matches his education needs. Dr. Moemeka is happy to speak with you about kindergarten and school choice.
Growth and Development
As your big kid matures, she gets stronger and grows in confidence. She will run, jump, and skip with better coordination than in preschool. She will be able to do more things on her own and usually makes less of a mess. As she gains new skills, support her by adding household chores to her daily routine. Simple ones like making her bed, putting away her toys, cleaning her room, and setting and clearing the table are great for this age. Chores teach her about teamwork, community, and responsibility. They are part of family life.
The years from kindergarten to 3rd grade, she is learning to read. After 3rd grade, she is reading to learn. Support this by continuing to promote daily reading. Ask your reader to read out loud to you, other family members, pets, babies, it doesn’t really matter as long as she is practicing this important skill. Read in tandem with her by taking turns. Make reading an adventure by reading nutrition labels, mail, magazines, anything that is age-appropriate and expands her world.
Children this age need about 8 hours of sleep every night. Turn off electronics and media at least an hour before bedtime. Promote relaxing activities in the evening like board and card games, reading, taking a bath, sipping tea or a small glass of milk, or just sitting to talk and catch up on the day.
In middle school, she will begin to have some physical and emotional changes due to puberty. It’s all quite normal. If your child is unusually sad, anxious or defiant, call Dr. Moemeka to schedule an appointment. Taking care of your child’s mental and emotional health are as important as making sure your child has regular checkups. Not addressing a child’s learning, thinking, or emotional concerns is like ignoring vision or speech problems. It keeps your child from being her most successful.
There are several resources that talk about ADHD, depression, suicide prevention and similar topics for this age group. Your best source is your local library. You can also find additional sources on the Keep Learning page. During each health maintenance visit Dr. Moemeka will ask your child age-appropriate questions about emotional health.
Well Child Visits
School Age kids come in for a health maintenance visit each year. These are routine check-ups to talk about growth and development. During these visits Dr. Moemeka will continue to speak with you and your child about nutrition, staying active, sleep, emotional health, social needs and caregiver health. When your child is 11-12 years old, he will get the adolescent vaccines that protect against specific cancers, tetanus and meningitis. This is also the visit where Dr. Moemeka will chat with him about adolescent confidentiality.
When he returns as a teenager, his visits will begin with you in the room, but you will be asked to step out after the physical exam. If he chooses, he may have a care team member stay in the room during the physical exam instead of you. For everyone’s comfort and safety, patients are always examined in the presence of an available chaperone of their choice, either a caregiver or a care team member.
Safety and Wellness
School is the social hub for your child. When it comes to safety, this is where the focus often falls. In kindergarten your big kid was taught to keep her hands to herself. Choosing kindness and standing up for kindness are effective ways to prevent and stop bullying and school violence. Bullying in school and through social media affects children long term. It’s important to stay involved with your child’s school by volunteering or keeping in touch with teachers. When you’re with your child, ask her about the school day. This is a great writeup on talking with kids about school.
Food and Fitness
Continue to encourage healthy eating, drinking lots of water instead of sugary and caffeinated drinks, and find ways to stay active as a family even if it’s as simple as dance competitions, playing tag in the backyard or walking the dog.