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✅ This article has been checked by our resident pediatric specialist.

Aim

The aim of this article is to provide an overview of what changes you can expect to see in your middle schooler, or a child who is between the ages of 11 and 13. These changes will occur across all developmental domains: motor; cognitive; language and social-emotional.

Outline

Introduction
Motor skills
Cognition
Language
Social and emotional skills
Things to remember

Introduction

Middle school is a step on the journey into adulthood.

Reaching the pre-teen years, and subsequently the teenage years, is a significant milestone for both children and their parents. At this age, there is huge variation in emotional and physical maturity between children – so it is more challenging to pin down what can be expected at certain ages. They will grow at their own pace and in different ways as they begin to understand the more delicate dynamic of the world around them – and start thinking about their place in it.

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.

Motor

Most children in this age range can:

  • Become a little less coordinated as their height and weight changes
  • Show uneven development in skills like agility, balance, strength, and flexibility
  • Require more rest since so much energy is being used for growing
  • Show a difference between body and brain growth
  • Develop fine motor and gross motor movements, like those used in team sports
  • Develop strength and endurance because of increased muscle mass

Cognition

Most children in this age range can:

  • Begin to understand concepts like power and influence
  • Question things and refuse to take everything at face value
  • Consider about how current actions affect the future
  • Worry about things like climate change and war
  • Memorize and retain information more easily
  • Use flexible thinking, like checking work and changing approaches as required
  • Begin developing their own worldview and a personal set of values
  • Want to contribute and make their own money

Language

Children may participate more fluently in class discussions or debates.

Most children in this age range may:

  • Use metaphors, slang, text speak, and other informal ways of talking
  • Be interested in having discussions, debates, and arguments
  • Pay more attention to body language, tone of voice, and nonverbal language cues
  • Go through “what if” scenarios and think through other ways of problem solving
  • Build grammar knowledge and vocabulary
  • Use writing to describe personal experiences

Social and Emotional Skills

A middle schoolers’ social and emotional skills will continue to develop as they grow.

Most children in this age range may:

  • Give into to peer pressure to be like others
  • Have experiences with bullying or cyberbullying
  • Be sensitive to other people’s opinions and reactions
  • Believe that the whole world is watching them
  • Develop a sense of pride in accomplishments and awareness of their challenges
  • Keep secrets
  • Have an awareness of what’s appropriate to say in conversation
  • Are introspective and moody, and need more privacy
  • May test out new clothing styles and try on new personalities
  • Have an increased attention span
  • Demonstrate more independence from the family

Summary

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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