Six-year-old girl flashes a big smile while playing with her curly hair. A child's 6th year is marked by an increase in independence and rapid development of mental skills.

Exciting 6! Here’s What to Anticipate in the Upcoming Year

Congratulations! Your child has entered “middle childhood” and there’s much to look forward to as they continue to grow, develop, and become more independent. Their time at school is sure to foster more substantial friendships and expand their understanding of the “bigger world” around them. It’s an exciting time, so read on to discover more about what to expect this year!

Physical Development 

Your child’s increased physical ability and independence is a wonderful thing! Their refined coordination will allow them to play sports and learn an instrument. You’ll notice an increased endurance for writing and relatively more legible handwriting. And of course, they’ll naturally be very active!

It’s imperative at this age to teach safety practices and keep an eye on your child at all times. Because they’ll be so eager to experiment with the limits of their physical abilities, children at this age are at an increased risk for accidents. Teach your 6-year-old to watch out for traffic when playing outside. Inform them about hazardous materials or appliances, such as the stove, outlets, or cleaning products. And train your child to ask for help when they need it!

Cognitive Development 

Cognitively, your child will be able to grasp more complex ideas about time, the past and present, real and imagined experiences, and cause and effect. They’ll be able to better express their experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Other “higher-level” thinking skills include the ability to group items and recognize when there is “more” or “less” of something.

At school, they’ll be able to count to 100 and add and subtract numbers within 10. In terms of reading, they’ll have solidified their understanding of the alphabet and their corresponding sounds. They will begin blending letter sounds to decode words. And, by the end of 1st grade, your child will be able to recognize about 100 sight words!

Language Development 

Your 6-year-old will be able to repeat sentences of up to 9 words. Grammatically, they’ll be using pronouns, possessive pronouns, and will be adding “ing” or “ed” to words. Their ability to speak in the future and past tenses will have progressed along with their understanding of time. By the end of age 6, they’ll be able to speak around 2,600 words and will recognize over 22,000! Be sure to expose them to plenty of books and rich conversation to encourage their development in this area.

Social Emotional Development 

Your 6-year-old will continue to grow more independent of you and the rest of your family in the coming year. They’ll be paying close attention to their friendships and teamwork and will want to be liked and accepted by friends. Just like last year, they’ll be less self-centered and more concerned with the feelings of others. Your child should be able to make and maintain friendships while also processing and expressing their own emotions. They should also be able to follow rules and understand the consequences of their actions. Furthermore, they’ll begin thinking about the future. This is a good stage to set up incentives like going for ice cream if they keep their room tidy all week.

It's important to note that every child develops at their own pace and may not reach every milestone at exactly the same time as their peers. It's also important to remember that milestones are just a general guide and shouldn't be used to compare your child to others. If you have any concerns about your child's development, it's always best to talk to your pediatrician.

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