9-12 Year Olds: Early School Age Children
Many children ages 9 to 12 place great emphasis on the development of their own physical ability. These activities could be like hitting a ball, riding a bike fast, and/or doing a handstand. A child will appreciate you watching their efforts with an encouraging attitude. They play hard and endlessly. Previous experiences have led to enough confidence to begin altering games and activities by changing or altering rules.
Around ten and eleven years old play becomes paramount, even while many show signs of being on the verge of more mature interests. Children this age frequently wander far from home in search of play opportunities, viewing school and chores as interruptions to the more important life of play. They may call the play of younger children “babyish” then turn around and enjoy the play themselves. Interests in clubs of all kinds becomes strong. They enthusiastically make up clubs and club rules of their own, demanding high standards from members that include following rules of membership and belonging. Most children eagerly invent new rules to make play more exciting, and demand that new rules be understood and followed to the letter by all.
A child might already be developing preferences for certain subjects at school, or particular areas of interest. They have beginner skills in reading, writing and math, and the capacity to express relatively complex ideas.
By 12 years old, children become rather calm and even-tempered in interactions with family, school, and each other. While some view this as a calm before the storm of adolescence, the period suggests that many children have achieved a new level of comfort and security with themselves, even if temporary. They continue to narrow and focus their interest, but the expansiveness of earlier play disappears even though their enthusiasm remains.
Many admit that even without peer influences they sometimes do things they believe are wrong. Many express having a heavy conscience that often bothers them, but at the same time are more likely than earlier ages to want to figure what is right and wrong for themselves. Interactions with peers continue to grow in importance, physical changes begin, and adult interest begin to replace the games and activities that were strong a year prior. They depend less on what parents say than they might have a year earlier. Many may now accept some responsibility for having done wrong, reasoning simply that others will not like them if they do not do so. This is a big step in moral development. Ethical and moral behavior become a conscious focus for children of this age.