Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Developing On Track: Top Skills Children Need to Learn Before They’re 8

developing-on-track-top-skills-children-need-to-learn-before-theyre-8Children follow a normal development timeline. The ages they reach milestones can vary between different ranges proposed by medical professionals. For example, some children on a normal development timeline begin talking as early as nine months while others begin at 14-months-old. A lot of the skill development timelines stop at five years of age. However, here are the top skills children need to learn before they turn eight.


Learning to swim is an important skill for safety as well as physical and psychological development. Swimming pools and waterways are everywhere, which is why children need to take swim lessons in NYC or wherever they may live for their own safety.  Children should instinctively know what to do if they ever fall into water. Developing strong swimming skills helps children overcome fear of water. Swimming is also a great exercise that builds strength and endurance. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that formal swimming lessons for children not begin until age four. Yet, that is a parental decision and the need for your child to take lessons might depend on how often your family is around water. By eight-years-old, children should have strong swimming skills so that they can be independent in the water.


One of the most socially awkward things for children to participate in is school dances as well as other social occasions, such as weddings, where dancing is expected if they do not know how to properly dance. Many cultures have dancing as part of their social heritage. Formal dance lessons in ballet, tap and other dancing gives children confidence to participate in social situations where dancing is expected. Dancing also is a great strength, aerobic and agility-building form of exercise for both boys and girls. Such skills are best developed while they are young.

Animal Care

Having a pet is a huge responsibility for the entire family. Pets are living creatures that require daily care. Children need to learn that animals are not toys, and that they can feel pain, be hungry and thirsty, and have higher emotional functions such as a need for social connectivity with humans that dogs have. Children who are given the responsibility of a pet and properly taught what to do in teaching and caring for a pet have a higher emotional intelligence, including compassion.

Dental Care

Many older parents remember being formally taught how to brush their teeth in school. However, the instruction was usually one class where children would brush their teeth and then dissolve a tablet in their mouth that would reveal plaque left behind. It was supposed to reinforce the need to brush thoroughly. By the age of eight, children should be properly brushing and flossing with a routine that does not need constant parental reminders. The routine of brushing and flossing should also be thorough and not lackadaisical just to be able to answer “Yes” when asked if they brushed their teeth. Cavities in children’s teeth are preventable with proper dental care that begins with brushing and flossing.

There are many more skills that children should know how to do well before their eighth birthday. Some skills are dependent on family lifestyles. For example, children growing up on a farm would know how to be safe around farm equipment, and children who live in urban areas would be more acutely aware of the dangers of city traffic. This list includes skills that are helpful in developing social, health, safety, empathy and compassion skills. Other skills to consider are formal training in playing a musical instrument, self-defense and proper handling of peer pressure. Skills in using computers, playing video games, and the technical side of social media seem to come to children easily nowadays. However, the basic things of acting responsibly, caring for one’s own health and safety, and having the appropriate skills to fit in a peer group need to be supervised.

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