Brain Development: Ages 11-13


Development during this period will center on how children process language, literacy and creative arts. They will move from always viewing something in a concrete way (just the facts) to being able to look at things with an abstract approach (having multiple meanings). You can take advantage of this shift to abstract thought by encouraging their curiosity and being actively engaged in their learning activities at school. Here are some more ideas on what to expect with your child’s brain development.

At this stage, children typically may:

  • Use active listening in both formal and informal settings.
  • Use nonverbal communication techniques to enhance meaning.
  • Show constructive ways to express needs, wants and feelings, even though the child will be going through a difficult time emotionally.
  • Develop techniques to deal assertively with peer pressure, which they will face a lot.
  • Read and write independently from school for a variety of purposes. Take advantage of this with trips to the library or bookstore. To encourage writing, encourage them to start a blog about something they’re really good at doing, or on a topic that excites and interests them.
  • Understand numbers and ways of representing numbers in a real-world context. Now is a good time to teach them concepts like figuring out a good restaurant tip and calculating how much money would be taken out of a paycheck for taxes.
  • Investigate how living things interact with one another.
  • Demonstrate respect for individual and cultural differences that help develop healthy relationships.
  • Use imagination to form and to express thought, feeling and character.

Keep This in Mind

These young people are “almost teenagers” which describes the state of internal conflict where these children find themselves.  This child has a strong need to develop independence and yet yearns to be part of a peer group. They are searching to identify who they are and often use pop culture to define themselves.

Sixth-grade students will apply their existing skills to make sense of longer, more challenging reading material. They will work on writing brief reports that examine a topic, have a clear focus, and include relevant facts, details, and quotations.   

Sixth-graders will also begin building math skills such as working with variables, ratios and rates.  They will work on dividing fractions and using positive and negative numbers together to describe quantities. 

Seventh-grade students will continue to analyze and evaluate ideas presented in reading materials. They’ll learn how themes develop over the course of a written piece and how they themselves can cite evidence in support of their own ideas.

Seventh-graders will be gaining an understanding of math skills such as proportions, equations and negative numbers. They will work on solving word problems that have a combination of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals.

Eighth-grade students will be exposed to a wider range of fiction and nonfiction materials in their lessons. They also will begin to learn critical analysis skills as they assess the validity of an author’s assertions. They also will learn to report their own research findings and sources in a clear manner.

Eighth-graders will continue to learn the basic principles of algebra and geometry.They will work on solving linear equations, pairs of linear equations, and writing equations to solve related word problems.