Every child's development is unique and complex. Although children develop through a generally predictable sequence of steps and milestones, they may not proceed through these steps in the same way or at the same time. A child's development is also greatly influenced by factors in his or her environment and the experiences he or she has. The information in this guide explains what child development experts consider to be "widely-held expectations" for what an average child might achieve within a given year. Please consider what you read in the context of your child's unique development.
Below is a snapshot of this year. For more in-depth information click on the specific areas of development in the menu at the left.
Seven-year-olds enjoy having the opportunity to share their knowledge with others. They display a longer attention span and the ability to tolerate less-detailed directions and last-minute changes. Seven-year-olds are curious and frequently ask adults and peers questions to satisfy their need to know. They utilize increasingly complex and creative strategies to solve problems at home and at school.
The language skills of seven-year-olds reflect the increasing impact of language and literacy instruction. The two areas interact in that literacy activities enhance children's recognition of language's dimensions, such as its sounds, patterns, meanings and uses. In turn, improving literacy skills (reading and writing) offer experiences that dramatically expand a child's experiences with words. The interaction of language, literacy and cognition form the basis for a child's academic development.
In second grade, children recognize more words by sight and can apply reading comprehension strategies in flexible ways so that they read with greater fluency (speed, accuracy and expression) and independence. Reading is a pleasurable activity for most children and they demonstrate their understanding through discussion, written response and participation in dramatizations. Children's vocabularies continue to grow and their writing is more developed and engaging.
Mathematically, seven-year-olds have strong number sense and estimation skills. Children this age can do simple addition and subtraction and can apply strategies necessary to solve related word problems. They can also effectively work in many ways with three-digit numbers and have improved abilities for solving arithmetic problems mentally. Seven-year-olds use rulers to measure units. They also understand how to measure angles and can apply their knowledge of shapes to three-dimensional objects and structures in the environment.
This is the age when children begin to effectively combine motor skills like running to kick a ball, rolling after landing from a jump or traveling in rhythm to music. They continue to be enthusiastic about physical activity in all of its forms, especially when the sport or physical activity is structured so that they can be successful. During this year, youngsters who have spent a substantial amount of time outside of school on skills like riding a bike, swimming, skiing, dance or gymnastics begin to show true proficiency. Note: During this period of development, children's actual skill levels will vary based on their amount of physical activity. Sedentary children will not mature as quickly as those who participate in activities like dance lessons, team sports or backyard play.
In terms of social and emotional development, seven-year-olds enjoy having and making friends and take pleasure in imitating the actions of friends and peers at school. While they typically prefer structure and routines, they may also choose to work or play independently when frustrated. Children this age often choose to develop games with rules and are likely to treat peers with respect during play. In addition, they start to experiment more with handling their emotional and social lives independently; they show that they can take some initiative socially and that they have the capacity to understand others' actions and feelings.
A child's development in the creative arts varies greatly based on the child's experiences with art, music, dance and theater. Given exposure and practice, seven-year-olds create art that depict objects more realistically and that reflect personal culture and experiences. In addition, they increase their knowledge of art elements, materials, techniques and processes. Seven-year-olds also have the ability to perform, read and write music that is increasingly more complex. They respond to the mood of music through movement and dance and show greater body awareness as they imitate and distinguish among various body shapes. Finally, they can name the characters, setting, problem and solution in a drama, as well as act out real-life and imaginative situations through dramatic play, puppet shows and other dramatizations.