Developmentally Appropriate Milestones for 7-Year-Olds
7 can be a dramatic age! From the kid’s perspective, everything is wonderful in the world, or everything is terrible; seemingly small events can color the kid’s day! They generally prefer the company of peers to adults and have several very close friends. The 7-year-old is highly concerned with concepts of right and wrong; “tattling” may surface or resurface during this year in correlation with their desire to ensure that everyone follows the rules and everything is “fair.”
At 7, kids can be competitive, with a desire to be “perfect” and “best.” Thoughts about popularity may emerge during this year. They may imitate the words and actions of peers as they experiments with various roles. Caregivers may be surprised when new behaviors are tried for the 1st time at home! When playing with peers, the 7-year-old retains some self-critical tendencies at age 6 but is better equipped to handle winning/losing without resorting to cheating or becoming distraught.
The 7-year old continues to enjoy dramatic play and will use props to craft complex pretend play scenarios. Restaurant, office, and school are good to pretend play themes. Logical reasoning continues to emerge, and they experience strong feelings of satisfaction when they can solve problems and puzzles; meaningful conclusions can be drawn from science experiments. The ideal classroom or group setting provides a balance of pursuits, including working with peers, a partner, and alone. Large-scale, kid-directed projects create meaningful learning opportunities for the 7-year-old!
Reading fluency and writing proficiency continues to grow during this year. Many kids, however, seem to feel “burned out” on typical reading assignments and paper and pencil tasks. Schoolwork and homework may become a struggle. Perhaps 1 of the best ways to hone skills at this age is to inspire kids to use reading and to write in fresh, new ways, such as building a web page or producing a script for a puppet show, or creating and using recipes. It is ideal for offering choices during out-of-school hours, allowing the kid to rest, relax, or enjoy age-appropriate games and toys.
Physical hobbies are common this year; kids often pursue interests such as gymnastics, skating, soccer, and bike riding. Fun, low-key lessons may help build skills. Still, it is essential, too, for adults to remember that “dabbling” in a variety of activities can develop a healthy, life-long love of exercise that may not be accomplished through focused training in any given sport. Long blocks of free play outdoors offer the 7-year-old freedom to roam, explore, and move.
Responding to 7-year-olds
Create meaningful group rituals to foster a sense of belonging.
Encourage kids to talk through and solve problems, but provide supervision and support to prevent deliberately unkind behavior towards peers.
Board games and card games are popular. Foster creativity by allowing kids to build structures with playing cards and invent their own rules and variations for games.
The 7-year-olds’ strong sense of fairness makes this a great age to integrate community service projects, like collecting food and supplies for a pet shelter.
Talent shows are popular and often enjoyed most when done just for fun rather than determining a winner.
Offer simple experiments to explore the properties of magnets, air, water, etc.
Cooking experiences are greatly enjoyed, and kids can participate in a variety of ways. Consider preparing and eating real foods, concocting your own bubble solution, play dough, or slimy putty!
Provide outlets for drawing and creative writing, but stay away from paper and pencil tasks if at all possible.
Ensure those classroom materials are in good repair. Frustration and lack of focus can prevail if the art supplies are dried out, the books are worn, and the puzzles are missing pieces!
Gardening can be rewarding at this age. Kids can fully understand the process and marvel at the transformation from seed to plant. Consider creating a nature center in the classroom that allows kids to observe caterpillars or tadpoles’ metamorphosis or incubate and hatch eggs.
Encourage kids to hone skills through the use of real tools for measuring, constructing. Woodworking and work with clay provide valuable experiences.
Provide long blocks of free choice time that enable active play and quiet time.