The Energized Eight-Year-Old

Photograph by Jeff Woodward.When eight-year-olds wake up in the morning, new plans for adventure are often percolating before their feet hit the floor. These plans usually involve a friend, or better yet, a group of friends. They may be as simple as rounding up a game of kickball or as complicated as starting a club for future astronauts. Eight is an age of invention, creation, and cognitive curiosity.

Eights tackle their assignments with high energy and speed. Getting volumes of work done is the goal, as opposed to detail and accuracy. Journals and diaries are filled with beginnings, first drafts, illustrations, letters, stories, and poems. Field trips are the best, allowing for new experiences and learning through exploring.

Eights demonstrate a growing sense of confidence and competence. They’re generally enthralled with learning the tools of their trade, whether those are pencil, pen, and ruler or more high-tech devices. They love keeping track of their progress: on math facts, how fast they can run, or the new dance steps or soccer moves they’re learning. Eights also take special pleasure in comparing performance, especially on sports teams and classroom activities.

Eights are quick to start new things, and equally quick to drop them. This exploratory excitement and enthusiasm is a positive attribute, but it means that eight is an age at which it’s a good idea to rent a musical instrument instead of purchasing one!

Children at this age need adults to respond positively to their changeability. They also need adults to be proactive by changing things frequently to keep pace with their energy. Giving new responsibilities on the school job chart each week are examples of really knowing what these children need. And remember surprises! No age benefits more from a surprise than the eights. Just something small and unusual can light up an eight-year-old’s day. Ice cream for breakfast?


In this series based on Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4–14, Chip Wood focuses on the positive developmental attributes generally present in children at different ages.

Tags: 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, Child Development, Yardsticks Series

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