Your Child at 9: Milestones

Medically Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on July 05, 2023
3 min read

Your 9-year-old is a good example of the old saying “still waters run deep.” There’s more going on inside their head than you might realize. And it’s an age when they’ll get a lot done in so many ways.

Your 9-year-old might seem to drift off like they are “in a daze” or “in another world.” But the world they are in is a new and interesting one. They begin to understand about being liked and seeking approval. They also will start to show they know right from wrong and understand rules.

They’ll probably start to tell you about their feelings and emotions. They might even surprise you by using slang and repeating things their friends said at school.

You may also notice the first signs of puberty: Girls’ breasts start to develop, while boys’ testicles and penis may begin to grow. Next, hair sprouts under the arms and in the pubic area.

Your 9-year-old may be more coordinated and get better at things like kicking, throwing, catching, and showing balance. Some kids will take a leap forward in sports like soccer, baseball, or basketball. They also may start to see themselves as athletic or unathletic.

At 9, hanging out with friends may begin to be a big deal -- boys will be more likely to want to be with other boys, and girls with other girls.

They also may change the way they play: Boys may be outside more often and be more physical, though the girls can be right there getting sweaty with them, and both boys and girls might get more interested in board games.

Most 9-year-olds are in fourth grade. Their writing is usually neater by this point. They can connect letters, write letters of the same size, and write in a straight line without lines on a page.

They also can put their ideas in writing. They’re able to write a story several paragraphs long on the same subject or an outline with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

They’re able to read aloud and are reading more complex and longer books. They’ll probably be able to learn from what they read and follow instructions.

If they find a topic they like, they can start to find more information on it on their own. They’ll also start to learn more complicated math subjects, like decimals, long division, and possibly geometry.

With a longer attention span, they’ll have more interests and start doing things like collecting and starting hobbies. But with so many interests, they’ll change things up.

If you think your child is struggling in school, talk with their teacher to see if you have reason to be concerned. They also can suggest ways you might help your child with schoolwork and keep them interested in learning.

As your 9-year-old starts to spread their wings, you can help by being there for them. Talk with them about their friends and things they are doing. Encourage them to take part in school activities and groups or sports.

When your child comes home from school, talk with them about their day and help with homework if they need it. Setting a time and place for homework can provide structure and let them know what’s expected.

Set rules for how to treat adults and other children and compliment them when they behave well.

You also can start giving them chores around the house, like picking up their clothes, making their bed, emptying trash, setting the table, walking the dog,and washing dishes.

Screen time should be limited to 1 or 2 hours a day. Make it something to look forward to after homework or chores are done.

This is also a good time to start laying ground rules for being online. Tell your child not to give any information to anyone, such as passwords, pictures, your home address, or phone number. They should know that not everything they read or sees on the internet is true and that they must let you know if a stranger tries to talk with them online.

Spend some time online together, and let them show you where they like to go.