The aim of this article is to provide an overview of what changes you can expect to see in your second or third grader, or a child who is 7 or 8 years-old. These changes will occur across all developmental domains: motor; cognitive; language and social-emotional.


Motor skills
Social and emotional skills
Things to remember


Five primary school kids sitting in a row on the floor.

By second or third grade, chances are that your child feels comfortable with the daily routine of going to school. While the days might have settled into a comfortable rhythm, you may have noticed that your child still has a lot of growing up to do!

A word to the wise: all children grow at a different pace, and it is critical not to be too panicked if your child doesn’t achieve a milestone in time. Human development is a complex subject and every child is unique – so no two children will develop in the same way or at the same rate.

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:

  • Improve their strength in both big and small muscles
  • Play and be active for longer periods without getting tired
  • Employ the small muscles in hands to get better at actions, like holding a pencil correctly and forming letters
  • Run farther distances for longer durations
  • Ride a bike without training wheels
  • Develop basic athletic skills like catching a ball
  • Tie shoes, button, and do up zippers without help
  • Coordinate movements to do things like follow a dance routine
  • Learn to type quickly on a keyboard
  • Put together two or three movements to form a pattern (e.g. skip, hop, skip)
  • develop their own movement pattern
  • Perform movements like twisting, spinning, turning, balancing and weight transfer to form a pattern
  • Perform movements to a rhythmic beat and adjust their movements to it
  • Understand terminology used to describe movement and movement patterns
  • Adjust throwing, catching, striking and kicking according to the context

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

  • Demonstrate a warm up and cool down routine
  • Engage in 2-3 minutes of moderate to intense exercise
  • Identify and begin to understand basic concepts in health and fitness
  • Perform between 4-10 or 5-13 push-ups, depending on age
  • Perform between 4-14 or 6-20 crunches, depending on age


Most children in this age range can:

  • Look for the reasons behind events or things they don’t quite understand
  • Ask questions for more information
  • Understand cause and effect and try to make more in-depth connections
  • Use connections to do complex math like multiplication and division
  • Start planning ahead, like creating to-do lists or blueprints
  • Can pay attention to something that interests them for 30-45 minutes
  • Start collecting items, like stickers
  • May try out different types of writing, like narratives and opinion pieces
  • Use complex and varying sentence types to express ideas
  • Recognize and understand the value of coins
  • Learn to do addition and subtraction with regrouping or borrowing


Your child’s language skills will continue to improve.

Most children in this age range:

  • Understand what they read and begin to move from learning to read to reading to learn
  • Acquire more vocabulary through reading
  • Use words to talk through problems, both socially and academically
  • Start playing with words to make puns
  • Understand jokes and riddles
  • Test out bad words for shock value
  • Use all letter sounds correctly and don’t substitute w for r when speaking
  • Use writing to express feelings, tell stories and summarize key information
  • Read longer books independently
  • Read aloud with proper emphasis and expression
  • Use context and pictures to help identify words they don’t know
  • Understand the concept of paragraphs and begin to apply it in writing
  • Correctly use punctuation
  • Correctly spell many words
  • Write notes, like basic emails
  • Understand humor in text
  • Use new words, phrases, or figures of speech that they’ve heard
  • Revise their own writing to create and illustrate stories

Social and Emotional Skills

Children will begin to form fast friendships.

Most children in this age range:

  • Have moments of insecurity and look for encouragement from people they trust
  • Can quickly change from being helpful and upbeat to being unhelpful and grumpy
  • Enjoy being part of a team, group or club
  • Spend more time with and are influenced by friends
  • Experience periods of dramatic emotion and impatience, and bounce back easily
  • Start seeing things from other people’s point of view and considering these perspectives
  • Be (somewhat aware) of others’ perceptions of them
  • Want to behave well, but aren’t always paying attention to directions
  • Share secrets and jokes with friends


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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