An early schooler is a child entering into Kindergarten and venturing though into the fifth grade.
This period begins a long, more settled period of childhood. The child begins to have a variety of experiences away from the home and the family. Children become involved in their school activities and find other sports and interests that they share with a number of friends and other adults.
While they are interested in their teachers and peers, they still need to please their parents most of all. They can begin to adapt to different styles of parenting and see the differences in different places and situations. They need to check in and touch base. They want the security of stable patterns in caretaking, and regular contact with each parent, including individual time with each parent. They want help in grooming, dressing, eating, and remembering things, but the more they learn and succeed at such tasks themselves the better they feel. Doing well at school and well at home makes the child feel good.
Early school children can understand the concept of time and routine. They can look forward to things that will happen and can remember things that were done before. They are better able to express things that are important to them and can find ways to get others involved.
They are beginning to understand the difference between fantasy and reality. They know what is “fair.” They begin to have definite opinions about what they like and what they don’t like. They learn to solve simple problems. If the child’s needs are not being met there may be physical problems (tummy aches, headaches), sleep problems, expressions of anger, and a return to more childish behaviors (bed wetting, baby talk).
When Designing a Plan for the Early School Child, Remember:
- The child’s schedule of school and after school activities must be considered so that the child can succeed in these areas.
- A consistent schedule and routine is necessary so that the child can focus on the job of school, friends, and team activities.
- Parents should select activities that match the child’s interests and work together to balance these activities with the demands of school.
- Birthday parties and other peer activities will be important and may require some additional transportation and flexibility of parenting time.
- Provide support for the child’s school program by setting a study routine and communicating with the teacher.
- Fewer midweek transitions make it easier for finishing school projects but both parents need to participate fully. Research shows that children with fathers involved in their schooling perform better in school.