Child development - milestones for grades 4 and 5 (ages 9 and 10)

Monday, June 26, 2023

The aim of this article is to provide an overview of what changes you can expect to see in your fourth or fifth grader, or a child who is 9 or 10 years-old. These changes will occur across all developmental domains: motor; cognitive; language and social-emotional.


Swimming lessons are excellent for exercise. It may feel like it was only yesterday that your child was holding fast to your hand as they learned how to walk for the very first time. Now, nine or ten years later, you’ve probably witnessed your child attaining several developmental milestones. Now, they’ve undergone a growth spurt (or are in the process of undergoing one). Perhaps you’ve seen that your child seems to be more independent than they were before. And finally, you may notice that having friends and feeling accepted by others feels more important to them. This is all a natural part of growing up! It’s important to remember, though, that all children grow at their own pace – so it’s not necessarily a huge cause for concern if a child does not meet one of these milestones by the age specified.

If you do feel that your child may be struggling, or has missed more than one milestone, then it’s probably a good idea to consult your pediatrician or family doctor for more insight and information.


Most children in this age range can:

  • Have a considerably larger appetite and may also need more sleep
  • Be clumsy due to their growth spurts
  • Prefer one hand and foot over another, which is known as right or left dominance
  • Develop hand-eye coordination – and this is when you may notice that your child requires glasses
  • Show improvement in handwriting and the ability to use other tools
  • Complain of growing pains like muscle cramps
  • Coordinate movements, like dribbling a basketball or swing a baseball bat at an oncoming ball
  • Become stronger and build endurance due to increased muscle mass
  • Show signs of puberty, which looks different in boys as compared to girls
  • Perform a variety of movement combinations in environments, like an athletic/sports game
  • Gain agility, balance, coordination, power, speed and reaction time
  • Adjust speed, direction, and force of movements depending on the context
  • Understand movement patterns by preparing, acting and then following through
  • Respond to simple cues in order to adjust movement for better results

In terms of fitness, your child may also be able to:

  • Set realistic fitness goals based on past performance and personal desires
  • Choose and become involved in activities to improve their fitness
  • Track their own fitness progress
  • Run the mile between 8:30 and 12:00 minutes, depending on sex and level of fitness
  • Perform between 7 and 20 push ups, depending on sex and level of fitness


Most children in this age range can:

  • Understand that thoughts are private
  • Understand that people see others differently than they see themselves
  • Predict the consequences of an action and plan accordingly
  • Argue more than one side of an issue
  • Rely on friends, the news, and social media to learn information and form opinions
  • Develop a better sense of responsibility and help out around the house
  • Understand events or things are connected


Speech, language and writing will continue to progress.

Most children in this age range can:

  • Read with accuracy and fluency without stumbling over words
  • Self-correct after pronouncing a word incorrectly
  • Look for meaning in historical, scientific, and technical texts
  • Compare and contrast two or more stories or accounts of the same event
  • Describe the theme, character, setting, plot and point of view in a story
  • Quote from what they reads to help support their understanding
  • Summarize what they read and state the main idea or theme
  • Describe causes and effects in a passage
  • Read and understand literature, poetry, and drama
  • Use adjectives, transitions words, and phrases in writing
  • Listen and draw conclusions across different subject areas
  • Deliver a speech or report information from group activities
  • Take part in class discussions
  • Learn meanings of new words using context clues
  • Talk about poetry and what poems might mean
  • Study an author’s language and style
  • Use reference materials to support opinions
  • Write for a variety of reasons
  • Use many different words when writing
  • Vary sentence structure
  • Revise writing to make it clearer
  • Edit final copies

Social and Emotional Skills

Children will form friendships and learn to nurture them over time.

Most children in this age range:

  • May be uncertain about puberty and changes to their bodies
  • Are insecure, have mood swings or struggle with self-esteem
  • Test limits and push boundaries by negotiating rules
  • Are increasingly independent from family and need privacy
  • Form stronger and more complex friendships
  • May face strong peer pressure
  • Understand how relationships with others can include more than common interests
  • Have a first crush or pretend to have crushes to fit in with their friends
  • Value friends’ opinions and share secrets and inside jokes
  • Can be kind, silly, and curious
  • Can also be self-involved, moody, and disrespectful
  • May test out new attitudes, clothing styles, and mannerisms
  • Adjust behaviors to resolve conflicts in a positive way
  • Appreciate the impact of exercise and activity
  • Informally assess peers and provide specific feedback
  • Cooperate with peers – even in competitive situations


It’s important to recognize that human development is a delicate process; and it’s never the same for every child. If you do feel concern for your child’s developmental trajectory, then by all means consult a medical professional for an opinion.

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