Seven-year-olds are at the perfect stage to learn new things. They’re young enough to appreciate structure, they’re old enough to adapt when necessary, and, while they aren’t totally oblivious anymore, there’s so much they have yet to learn. There are plenty of important goals seven-year-olds can and should achieve.
Some of these goals are concrete. Your seven-year-old can meet certain “due dates” and cross set finish lines.
Others aren’t so measurable. They’re just skills and abilities that seven-year-olds are finally able to possess.
Whichever the case may be, these are twenty-one of the most crucial goals for seven-year-olds to achieve.
1. Staying Safe
Seven-year-olds are curious, they’re active, and they’re unlikely to stay by your side at all times (as convenient as that would be).
Whether your child is prepared to fend off bullies or, in the worst-case scenario, an adult attacker, certain self-defense strategies are important and even potentially life-saving.
You might wish, initially, to teach your seven-year-old about body language. High self-esteem and confidence are difficult for bullies to approach. Such seemingly small things as good posture and a purposeful walk can make all the difference.
Ideally, these traits will prevent any sort of undesirable situation from taking place, but you may also want to teach your seven-year-old some sort of physical defense strategies, such as staying in a group, running away when a stranger or a situation seems suspicious, and saying “no” when he or she feels uncomfortable.
Your seven-year-old can even take a self-defense class. It’s never a good idea to teach kids to instigate fights, but there is a great deal of benefit in teaching them how to prevent fights or stop them when necessary.
2. Learning Self-Control
Sadly, self-control is something most grown-ups still struggle with. However, rooting restraint in a child’s mind from a young age amplifies its power as he or she ages.
Quite possibly the best way to instill good self-control habits in a seven-year-old is a no-sugar diet.
This doesn’t have to be a lifestyle change. Abstaining from sugar for a week or a month at a time can establish a surprising reserve of self-discipline. Not to mention, this can be a fun family activity.
Yes, I said fun. My own family forwent chocolate for an entire year, and my parents paid my siblings and I each a decent sum of shopping money.
But you don’t have to drop too much cash on the prize: You can find some way to reward the family collectively. I have friends whose parents promised them long-awaited vacations, snowboarding trips, dirt bikes, etc.
Whatever the “trophy” may be, this exercise in self-control is sheer, good-hearted fun competition with incredible long-term effects.
3. Reading Chapter Books
Conquering his or her first chapter book is a huge milestone for any seven-year-old.
This one shouldn’t be too difficult. Your seven-year-old has probably been reading for quite some time now. Chapter books will simply test his or her attention span and ability to concentrate the same way he or she would on a picture book.
There are a few chapter books that I think are ideal for a seven-year-old to begin with.
Most Roald Dahl books are fun and relatively easy reads (Fantastic Mr. Fox is my personal favorite). I can remember being completely absorbed in Matilda, The BFG, George’s Marvellous Medicine, and James and the Giant Peach.
Of course, The Borrowers is a great series that any seven-year-old can enjoy. The itty-bitty, humorous, big-hearted Borrowers will take your seven-year-old on incredible adventures from the comfort of his or her own home.
And, of course, there are always The Chronicles of Narnia. These contemporary classics are hard to pull away from, and they’re the perfect way to get your seven-year-old excited to read.
4. Exercising Regularly
Regular exercise is yet another healthy habit to which most adults still struggle to commit. Seven-year-olds are still in their willfully active years, making them the perfect target for positive practice-building.
When I was seven years old, my dad took me with him to the gym a few times each week. We wouldn’t do anything too difficult: We would run on the treadmill for a while, we would do a few sit-ups, and we would swing across the monkey bars (remember that most seven-year-olds’ arms are used to monkey bars; don’t be too disappointed if your kid flies past you at the speed of light).
Inviting your seven-year-old to join your workout every now and then is an easy and enjoyable way for you both to enforce healthy habits and spend some quality time together.
5. Saving Money
As a current university student, I can promise you that this one will come in handy later.
I learned how to save money at around ten years old, but I don’t see why it can’t be learned sooner. Ask your seven-year-old to do a few chores around the house and pay him or her a few dollars for the effort.
Encourage him or her not to immediately the money, then provide a small bonus when $50 or $100 have been saved.
This is a relatively simple way to promote mindful spending and saving, and it will save you some extra cleaning in the process. It’s a win-win in my book.
6. Eating Healthy
I can hear the collective groans through my screen.
Almost no one likes to eat healthily—especially not seven-year-olds. Their metabolisms are so quick right now that they probably don’t think they need to worry about what they eat.
Unfortunately, unhealthy eating and exercise habits go hand-in-hand and lead to an ultimately harmful lifestyle. Teach your seven-year-old the importance of living an active and wholesome life by allowing him or her to help you make nutritious meals and choose healthy snacks.
Not only will the two of you have tons of fun together, but your seven-year-old will know exactly how to eat when he or she is no longer living at home.
7. Using New Words
In case you haven’t noticed, the English language is vast.
There are so many great words to be used, and your seven-year-old probably knows very few of them. (Heck, I don’t know too many of them, myself.)
Now is the perfect time to broaden your seven-year-old’s vocabulary. A substantial wealth of words will allow your child to express himself or herself with precision. Furthermore, many studies argue that a large vocabulary can do far more than solidify one’s reading, writing, and speaking skills.
A wide vocabulary can increase a child’s input processing skills, expand his or her ability to think in abstract terms, ensure more success in future employment, and even improve his or her attributes as a citizen.
(Read more about the benefits of vocabulary here.)
Language is undoubtedly important, and there is no better time than now to teach your seven-year-old how to use it with skill.
8. Developing Math Skills
Ohhhh, boy. I’m studying English specifically so I never have to do arithmetic homework ever again. But even I have to face the fact that math is present in every aspect of our lives, and the least we can teach our seven-year-olds are their “times tables.”
Actually, there’s plenty more we should be doing: Seven-year-olds’ mathematical facilities are growing rapidly, and they should now be able to think critically and answer questions like “What’s the missing number in 5+__=11?” and “Put the following double-digit numbers in order for least to greatest.”
The best time for a child to learn new math skills is when he or she is young. Help your seven-year-old build these strengths now so that school (and life) are easier in the long run.
9. Doing School Work
Speaking of school…
There’s nothing worse than trying to meet a 12 A.M. deadline and knowing that there simply aren’t enough hours between then and now for you to accomplish whatever it is that you need to accomplish.
Sometimes, these time-crunches are unavoidable. Maybe your workload is crazy intense (I know mine is). There truly might not be enough hours in the day for you to do what you need to do.
Odds are, though, you and I could have done some of this homework a while ago. I know I definitely had time on Friday night, when I chose to go see a movie instead—or on Tuesday when I hung out with some friends—or on Sunday morning when I slept in until noon.
There’s nothing wrong with taking some time for yourself. However, if you indulge yourself too much, the time you set aside some other important things (like homework) will evaporate on the back burner.
Teach your seven-year-old not to procrastinate. Expect your child to finish his or her homework before allowing him or her to play with friends or watch TV. Establish some hardy routines now. Your seven-year-old will thank you when he or she is older.
10. Keeping Clean
Cleanliness is next to godliness, right?
Even if you don’t think being tidy is divinely important, I’m sure you can accept that it still matters somewhat. I’m willing to bet that organization could have saved each of us from a sticky situation sometime in the past. Now is your chance to prepare your seven-year-old for an efficient future.
One of the best ways to teach your seven-year-old to stay clean is by doing so your self. Exemplification is powerful, and displaying a positive attitude towards your cleaning duties is even more so.
You can also implement a chore chart. Those have always been successful in my house. Seven-year-olds are excited by the strangest things, and chore charts somehow seem to top the list.
Whatever you do, just know that cleanliness is a totally achievable goal for your seven-year-old as well as a major life skill.
11. Learning an Instrument
I started playing the violin when I was six years old. I have friends who began as early as four. Seven-year-olds, however, might be at the optimal age to learn an instrument.
Six was a bit too early for me. I spent that first year of lessons focused on how pretty my violin was, how funny its rosin smelled, and how curious those “f”-shaped holes on either side of the bridge seemed to be. What on earth is inside
Those friends who started playing even sooner than I did admit that they had to relearn everything from those first few years. They were so young that they really couldn’t retain much information. Some of them had to review even the simplest things, like how to hold the bow or how to tune the instrument.
Seven-year-olds won’t have such significant issues with attention and knowledge conservation, and they’re still young enough that they won’t dread lessons the way teenage, novice musicians do. Their passion will be established early enough to last throughout the adolescent years, but not so early that it disappears before any real learning can begin.
12. Making New Friends
My sister was very shy growing up, and, at around seven or eight years of age, my dad started forcing her to practice approaching people by talking to trees.
I’m not sure this method is approved by social psychologists, but it certainly had a lasting impact. My sister is now one of the most socially adept people I know. She’s friends with just about everybody.
You don’t have to coerce your seven-year-old to confabulate with greenery, but you can instill some crucial social skills that will allow him or her to make friends in the future.
Remind your seven-year-old to maintain eye contact. Teach him or her the proper emotions to display in front of another person (this might seem strange, but adherence to certain societal and emotional standards can absolutely magnify a child’s ability to make friends).
If necessary, provide a friend-making environment yourself by organizing a party or a play date for your child with his or her peers.
13. Distinguishing Left from Right
This one might sound silly, but it’s really quite significant.
Some people have a terribly difficult time telling left from right. This struggle is the result of a “complex neuro-psychological process involving several higher neurological functions such as the ability to integrate sensory and visual information, language function and memory.”
(Read more about the science of left-right discrimination here.)
Once again, seven-year-olds are the prime subjects for left-right assurance exercises. And it’s very important that they learn to discern between the two: Whether one makes a mistake a driver’s ed lesson or as a surgeon in the operating room, the inability to distinguish left from the
You can remind your seven-year-old that the left hand makes an “L” and the right hand does not, but this approach isn’t always effective. Try this computer game (you might have to read the instructions to your child).
Set some deadlines to ensure that your seven-year-old learns to determine which hand is which before it really matters.
14. Being Kind
Unfortunately, being seven years old isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
Seven-year-olds are at a devastatingly susceptible age for bullying. They may not yet know the difference between kindness and cruelty, and, often, their meanness is wholly unintentional.
Reaffirm to your seven-year-old how important kindness is. Share a story from your past. Help him or her to understand why it’s important to treat others well.
Convince your seven-year-old that he or she should aspire to be kind as much as he or she aspires to win tomorrow’s soccer game or ace a reading quiz in class.
15. Riding a Bike
If your seven-year-old hasn’t yet learned to ride a bike, now is a great time to start.
If your child is often anxious, he or she probably hasn’t worked up the courage to conquer the almighty bicycle. We can’t really blame the kid: Bikes are scary. To inexperienced riders, they seem uncontrollable.
The safest approach, as we’ve probably all seen before, is to run alongside your seven-year-old, hands over his or hers on the handlebars, cheering him or her on. Then, you can slowly ease away as your child seems more and more confident. (Just make sure to warn him or her before you let go.)
The key here is to set limits rather than deadlines. If your seven-year-old is especially timid, help him or her ride for thirty minutes each day until he or she feels comfortable alone.
Don’t force the process all in one go, or neither of you will have any fun.
16. Learning to Draw
Take this precious, seven-year-old time to hone your child’s artistic skills.
Not every kid needs to be Leonardo da Vinci. However, drawing is a fantastic means of expression, and it’s an enojoyable activity for any creative child, whether or not he or she can paint like Picasso.
Buy your seven-year-old a sketchbook and challenge him or her to fill every page with original artwork. You can even buy a coloring book, as coloring encourages the same abilities and creative faculties as drawing.
Allow your child to express himself or herself freely—who knows? You might just have the next Jackson Pollock on your hands.
17. Learning to Write
My position as a writer might bias me a bit, but I think storytelling is the greatest skill anyone can have.
Nobody is too young to write. In my opinion, seven-year-olds might even be a little late to the game. Urge your seven-year-old to read and write often. You might even request the occasional story.
My mom asked me to write her a story for every birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas, and Easter. Now I write for a living. All I mean to say is that the occasional push can go a long way.
18. Dressing Independently
Your seven-year-old can actually start dressing on his or her own now, though the results might be almost farcical.
Don’t be afraid of clashing color combinations and funky shoes. Allow your seven-year-old to dress him or herself. You might give some guidance, but don’t force anything.
Like I said, the outfits your seven-year-old chooses might be unusual, but don’t let that deter you. Dressing oneself is the ultimate form of personal expression, and allowing seven-year-olds to do so can build their sense of autonomy and ability to make decisions.
19. Setting Goals
That’s right. Setting goals itself can be a goal—and it’s a pretty important one. Just as dressing independently encourages autonomy, allowing your seven-year-old to set personal goals encourages ambition and motivation.
Make a family bucket list. Help your seven-year-old create a vision board with cutouts from magazines. Ask fun questions, like “what would you do with your own island” or “what would you do with one million dollars?” Allows your seven-year-old to learn a little about his or her goals and aspirations. Give your child something to work toward.
20. Getting Enough Sleep
This one’s trick for everybody. But getting enough sleep can monumentally improve a person’s health, thinking abilities, and success in school and at work. Undoubtedly, your seven-year-old will benefit from learning to get adequate hours of sleep each night.
Seven-year-olds no longer require naps during the day, but they should be getting at 9–12 hours of sleep every night. I know it’s not always easy to get kids to bed on time, but try to help your seven-year-old understand just why it’s important to snooze when you say “snooze.”
Turn off electronics. Order a noise machine. Whatever it takes, a solid nine-hour minimum of sleep every night will make for a happy, healthy seven-year-old and, consequently, happy parents.
21. Working with a Team
Finally, your seven-year-old will be faced with collaborative opportunities often in his or her life. Allowing him or her to practice working with fellow team members will ensure that your child is prepared to cooperate with others in the future.
Perhaps the best plan of action is to let your seven-year-old join a sports team. Your child will learn comradeship, compromise, and working as a group toward a common goal.
Furthermore, sports are great exercise, so you can knock out two goals with one soccer ball, so to speak.
Whatever goals you think are most relevant to your child, any combination of the items on this list will help your seven-year-old to develop quickly and, hopefully, lead a productive and well-rounded life.
How involved should I be with my child’s goals in school? Often, your child’s teachers will be best equipped to determine and set these goals. However, you can always study at home and work with your child on his or her homework.
If you’re concerned about your child’s academic performance, you might wish to meet with his or her instructors to determine what the best course of action might be.
Are every seven-year-old’s goals the same? While many seven-year-olds are at similar cognitive, physical, and intellectual points, some are slightly behind or ahead of their peers. Generally, these goals apply regardless.
Some of them, however, like reading chapter books or dressing independently, might be either beyond your child or in his or her rearview mirror. You’ll have to determine accordingly which goals are most applicable to your seven-year-old.