School-age children (6 to 12 years of age) differ from preschool children in that they are more engrossed in fact than fantasy and are capable of more sophisticated reasoning. School-age children develop their first close peer relationships outside of the family group and their first affiliation with adults outside of their family who will influence their lives in a significant way. Their sense of industry and the development of a positive self-esteem are directly influenced by their ability to become an accepted member of a peer group and meet the challenges in the environment. The school-age child must be able to pay attention in class (with at least a 45-minute attention span), understand language, and progress from the skill of writing or reading to understanding what is written or read.
The sex organs remain immature during the school-age years, but interest in gender differences progresses to puberty. The influence of the school environment is considerable. Aggressive behavior is sometimes overlooked in boys but is discouraged in girls.
Play activities in the school-age child involve increased physical and intellectual skills and some fantasy. Teams are important to growth and development, and competition is a new challenge. Mastering new skills helps the child to feel a sense of accomplishment, which is necessary to successfully achieve Erikson’s phase of industry. High-stress and high-impact sports such as football are not desirable sports activities for the school-age child because of the risk of injury to the immature skeletal system.
In the United States, latchkey children are those who are left unsupervised after school because parents are away from home or at work and extended family is not available to care from them. Some latchkey children, however, enjoy the independence and become skilled in problem solving and self-care. A back-up adult should be available to the child in...