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5th/6th Graders


Understanding and Empowering 5th and 6th Graders, Dr. Brad SchwallDr. Brad Schwall

To view the online version of these tips or to link to them, go to: www.coolkidschannel.com/e-tips/fifth_sixth

Developmental researchers describe common characteristics of children the age of 5th and 6th graders.

  • Erik Erikson describes the conflict that 5th and 6th graders face: Industry VS Inferiority moving into Identity VS Role Confusion. They are working to believe that they can accomplish tasks successfully rather than believing that they do not have abilities. As they move into early adolescence, they begin working on their identity.
  • Jean Piaget posits that children this age begin developing awareness that they have unique feelings and thoughts. They may become more internally-focused and more reserved.
  • According to Lawrence Kohlberg, the morality of children this age is still focused on being "nice," making choices that please others, following rules, and respecting authority. Helping them understand the impact of their actions on themselves and others can help them develop a more intrinsic motivation for making good choices.

5th and 6th graders are:

  • Social - allow them to be themselves. Not all children need a large number of friends. Focus on meaningful relationships.
  • Media and technologically savvy - in school, allow them to use technology for learning. Guide them to understand the influence that advertising tries to have on opinions and behaviors.
  • Independent - give them opportunities to be successfully self-directed.

They enjoy:

  • Being in charge
  • Learning from someone they know and respect rather than being lectured by someone who doesn't try to understand them
  • Having a say rather than being talked down to

Strategies for Working with 5th and 6th Graders

  • Avoid lectures. Instead, help them reflect on their own experiences, feelings, thoughts, and observations.
  • Let them lead and make their own choices. Empower them to problem-solve and take responsibility for themselves.
  • Let them create. Allow 5th and 6th graders to follow through on their ideas and interests.
  • Emphasize the positive consequences for themselves and others associated with the positive choices they make.

Empower rather than manage.  Understand your role as an encourager.  Show interest in their world.  Treat them with respect.  Let them still be children.  Pay attention to every aspect of their lives - social, academic, physical, emotional.


©  2012 Dr. Brad Schwall, Author Cool Kids Resources for Schools and Parents.  Permission granted to share and re-distribute these tips.  The Cool Kids resources help schools develop positive learning environments, children build character, and parents effectively parent their children.  Sign up to receive free parenting tips: www.coolkidschannel.com/parentingtips, DrSchwall@coolkidschannel.com


    © Dr. Brad Schwall - Cool Kids. All Rights Reserved.

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