How your child develops in Key Stage 2

Friends playing together in playground
What changes can you expect to see in your child over the next four years?

The move from infants to juniors is the start of a new era of independence for your child. Their life revolves around their friends and out-of-school activities, with you as taxi driver, and with the teenage years beckoning, they're likely to be growing more mature by the day.

What’s going on in there?

Your Year 3 child is:

  • keen to have more responsibility and independence.
  • concerned about how others perceive them.
  • drawn to same-sex children in the playground.
  • forgetful and easily distracted.
  • likely to have strong feelings – positive or negative – towards their teacher.

Your Year 4 child is:

  • good at making new friendships, particularly with the same sex.
  • more secretive.
  • keen to participate in extracurricular groups and activities.
  • generally laidback, affectionate, helpful and considerate.
  • sometimes silly, giggly, rude and demanding.

Your Year 5 child is:

  • spending most of their time with same-sex friends.
  • desiring more independence and pushing boundaries.
  • acquiring a conscience, and obsessed with fairness.
  • usually reliable, truthful and trustworthy.
  • concerned about being accepted by others.

Your Year 6 child is:

  • affectionate towards you.
  • selective about friendships, with one or two best friends.
  • developing a strong moral code.
  • increasingly interested in fashion, music and TV.
  • keen to be given privacy.

Potential pressure points

“Many of the pressures in Key Stage 2 are social issues,” says chartered educational psychologist Julia Busch Hansen. “They’re more aware of things like money, fashion and what other people think of them.” This increases in years 5 and 6, where many of the girls are starting puberty and maturing at different rates.

School can be a source of pressure, too, both inside the classroom and out. Teasing and bullying may become a problem, and children are also more conscious of how they perform academically in relation to others. And in year 6, they may be feeling insecure about the big move to secondary school.

Warning signs to watch out for

It’s common for children of this age to become withdrawn, which can make it difficult to tell if they’re under pressure. “It’s important to make yourself available to support your child through changes in routine and changes in what is expected of them,” advises chartered educational psychologist and educational adviser Susan Brooks. Look out in particular for signs of stress like irrational fears, sleep problems, body image issues such as wanting to diet, mood swings, tearfulness or anger.