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Ages 9-11: Friendships and independence become important

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Children sitting in classroom

In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:

1. Should all kids develop at the same rate?
2. What are key developmental milestones?
3. Why is screening important?

As your child approaches or enters middle school, expect to notice more maturity — in mind and body.

As parents, we often hear the term developmental milestones and know it’s important our children hit these markers at key moments of growth. But what exactly do child development specialists mean by that phrase?


“First, it’s important to remember that every child is an individual,” says Randee Gabriel, programs manager at 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast. “There are no two children that will hit every milestone at the exact same time. Still, there are crucial cues to look for at each age.”

Here’s some insight from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on what’s normal for your child’s development at these ages. This is an important time for children to gain a sense of responsibility, along with their growing independence. Also, physical changes of puberty might be arising by now, especially in girls.


  • Forming stronger, more complex friendships and peer relationships; becoming more emotionally important to have friends, especially of the same gender
  • Experiencing more peer pressure
  • Becoming more aware of their body as puberty approaches; body image and eating problems may start around this age
  • Facing more academic challenges
  • Becoming more independent from the family
  • Beginning to understand others’ points of view
  • Attention span increasing


 “Every age group brings within itself new changes and skills required,” Gabriel says. “Rescreening at each interval is imperative to identify these shifts and ensure healthy development over the long term.” 


• Randee Gabriel, programs manager, 211 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 

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