8 Things Every Kid Should Know By Age 8

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It seemed like just yesterday that your baby was bringing home “treasures” in his pocket and asking you to kiss the boo-boo all better. But now, your little kid isn’t so little anymore. In fact, eight year-olds are officially in big kid territory, and in preparation for those tween years, are definitely exploring their sense of self and boundaries. If you’re the parent of one, you may be wondering what abilities and milestones they should have under their belt at this stage. We spoke with a pediatrician and an education expert to find out. Here, eight skills all 8 year-olds should definitely have mastered. (Hint: It’s time to stop doing their shampooing for them.)

Meet the Experts

  • Anh Lee, MD is a provider at One Medical. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 2007 and specializes in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Family Medicine. She is also a certified lactation education consultant.
  • Jennifer Romanoff has been in the Early Childhood Education field for over 30 years, starting her career as a teacher and now as the Vice President of Curriculum at Lightbridge Academy, an early-childhood education daycare and development center.

1. How to dress and groom themselves completely. OK, you may need to help with a knot in her hair or with some teeth-brushing-reminders, but Lee tells us that an 8 year-old should be able to dress themselves completely from head to toe, including putting on their socks and tying their shoes. “They can also pick out their outfit for the day, which may or may not mean a longer ‘getting ready’ time in the morning.” She also stresses that they should be able to bathe themselves without your help.

2. How to do a chore with minimal supervision. Hopefully your kid has been doing chores for a few years (even toddlers can help pick up their toys). But by age eight, they should be able to contribute to the household in a more meaningful and independent way (i.e., with no or very little help from you). “This can include things like setting the table, putting dishes into the dishwasher/sink, cleaning up their room, or putting clothes into the laundry machine,” says Lee. Raking leaves, putting trash cans to the curb, making the bed and vacuuming are a few more ideas for chores an 8 year-old can handle. Equally important? They should also start to grasp why we do chores and how we help each other for the greater good. (We’re not promising they won’t whine about it though.)

3. How to understand numbers, fractions and time. There’s lots of cognitive growth happening in your 8 year-old’s brain! With the caveat that all kids learn at their own pace, Lee tells us that most kids at this age can do fun things like counting backwards and also counting by twos and fives. They should also be able to understand the concept of time (i.e., what does five more minutes really mean?) and better grasp the concept of fractions. “Looking at fractions present in everyday life (like parts of a pizza or parts of a basketball game) may be a helpful learning activity to confirm this knowledge,” the pediatrician advises. Finally, they should be able to tell you the day of the week and months of the year in order.

4. How to write clearly. Your 8 year-old should be able to write clearly, including all letters, numbers and shapes, says Romanoff. That means most letters should be similar in size and in a straight line, although you may still see a few characters that are flipped or reversed. And while their writing is progressing, it won’t be as advanced as their speech.

5. How to jump, skip and run well. At this age, you probably won’t see any major new changes in your kid’s physical development. Instead, it’s about improvements in their coordination, balance and muscle control. “Kids are able to move better at this age,” Lee tells us. You may be impressed at how well they’re able to roller skate, dance or ride a bike, for example. It’s also a great time to join the soccer team, as “they become increasingly skilled in sports and active play,” she adds.

6. How to identify their emotions. Buckle up parents, because the tween years can be an emotionally charged time (so. Much. Drama.). And while your kid might not know what to do with all their feelings, they should be able to name them. “Your child can often identify their feelings (whether it’s feeling happy, sad, upset or scared) better at this age,” says Lee. “Being able to do this will start to allow them to develop empathy skills.” Indeed, your 8 year-old may already be showing off improvements in the empathy department (like the ability to grin and bear it when grandma serves a dish he doesn’t like) and parents can expect more progress in the years to come.

7. How to follow rules. “Socially and emotionally, they know the difference between right and wrong and are not only following rules but can also help to create them,” says Romanoff. Note: That doesn’t mean they won’t also lie about who ate the last cookie or stole money in a game of Monopoly—they’re still very much figuring out what is and isn’t acceptable behavior and testing boundaries.

8. How to form friendships that have nothing to do with you. As your 8 year-old becomes more independent, they will develop new interests, skills, talents and friendships. Friendships, in particular, are becoming increasingly important and stable. As such, they may want time away from parents (“Mom, can I sleep over at Ayaan’s house?”) and more privacy (“don’t come into my room!”). But rest assured that your big kid still needs you (and may call you from the sleepover to pick him up early).

Ask a Pediatrician: 14 Things Your Child Should Know How to Do by Age 4

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Alexia Dellner

Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...
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