School Aged Kids
These not so little ones are older than 5 but not yet teenagers. This is another period with lots of change for you and your child. They are learning to use their independence in the world. Starting school is their first step into doing things without your help. Because of this, promoting wellness and supporting them through these years will help them become successful young adults.
Transitioning to Big Kid School
Starting school can be scary, exciting, and fun all at the same time. In order to help your child ace this transition, educate yourself about the different types of schools available to you, including homeschooling. His education should match his thinking and learning style. Even within the same 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 his learning type. Dr. Moemeka is happy to speak with you about kindergarten and school choices.
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 in less messy ways. 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 along with being a part of family life.
During the years from kindergarten to 3rd grade, she is learning to read. While after 3rd grade, she is reading to learn. Support this by continuing to promote daily reading. Ask her to read out loud to you, other family members, pets, or babies. Read in tandem with her by taking turns. Make reading an adventure by reading nutrition labels, mail, magazines, and 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 1 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 normal physical and emotional changes due to puberty. 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 is 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 as they keep your child from being her most successful.
There are several resources to inform you 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. Additionally, during each health maintenance visit, Dr. Moemeka will ask your child age-appropriate questions about emotional health.
School Age kids should 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 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 you or 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. Reach this 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.