Having gone through the first two important stages of development in early childhood – from crawling and walking to the “terrible twos” age, and the time between 3 and 5 – your child now reaches the third great developmental step beginning at 5 and ending around 7. Within this context, when talking about ‘age 7’ we mean the seventh year of a child’s life – from the sixth to the seventh birthday. It is the crowning stage of early childhood.
From about the age of 5 the child’s figure starts to change dramatically, especially in the length of the legs. While the face is still somewhat chubby, the abdomen and limbs begin to get longer and more slender, the muscles become visible and knees more flexible. The child can now walk and run faster; many like climbing trees, balancing on narrow ledges, making things that require dexterity of the fingers. Physical activities become popular, especially with boys.
Gradually your child will develop a clear waistline which can keep trousers from falling down, her stomach will grow flatter and the spinal column take on a graceful S-shape which facilitates agile movement.
Self-directed and purposeful play
These physical changes will be accompanied by psychological ones as well. The child’s true will now leads her to play in a different manner. Before this age children are stimulated by an external object then moved to play by a ‘drive’, an automatic, primitive form of will.
At 6, the child’s individual will acts upon a plan which has been conceived through an inner process of creativity. The 5 or 6 year old has a goal which she wants to achieve in her play.
While between four and 5 it is ‘play for play’s sake’, the 6 year old decides beforehand what she wants to do and sets about finding means to achieve it. At the same time as being imaginative and imitative still, the play becomes self-directed, purposeful and usually involves much discussion and sharing of ideas among playmates.