Here's a tip that will help anyone writing about characters between the ages of four and fourteen.
A couple of years ago, I was struggling with how one of my characters should behave. I googled "eight year old development" and found a website that sells a set of pamphlets about children's behavior by age. Although it's intended for teachers, I ordered a sample set and found it really useful. For each age level, they give a quick overview, then elaborate by social, physical and cognitive characteristics. For example, my eight-year old probably loves group activities and cooperative work (social), may experience a growth spurt (physical) and is industrious, impatient and full of ideas (cognitive). This really helped me write about Clara in The Next Step (growth spurt and all!).
Of course, not every eight-year-old behaves in the same way, but knowing what the average child is doing can also help you understand when a child is an exception to the norm, and how that might affect him or her.
You can order these Child Development pamphlets, or the book that they're taken from (Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom), at www.responsiveclassroom.org/bookstore. A sample set of 9 pamphlets, from kindergarten to grade eight, is only $12. Hope your other readers find them as useful as I did!
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