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Ages & Stages

It is important to understand that each child is an individual -- unique in his or her own way. Even with such special qualities, there are common characteristics that all children possess at different stages of development. While all children go the the order of the youth development stages the same way, the rate at which they develop can differ from child to child. Some children will go through stages faster than others. Other children will take longer to move through a youth development stage. Age is not and can not be a predictor of whether a child is ready for a specific activity/lesson. A child's mental, physical, emotional and social growth may not be within the same stage. It is the sequence of the stages that remain constant. Thus, a child may need a variety of experiences in each of the aforementioned areas to successful reach his or her potential.

Each youth development stage is very distinct and highlighted by specific capabilities, perspectives and preferences that differ from those stages that have come before or that will follow. 4-H agents are well-versed in each of these stages and offer age-appropriate educational materials and programs that match those anticipated sequences of growth and change that naturally occur in children.

Four youth development stages occur throughout childhood. These stages are as follows:

• Early Childhood -- Ages 5 to 8

• Middle Childhood -- Ages 9 to 11

• Early Adolescence -- Ages 12 to 14

• Middle Adolescence -- Ages 15 to 18

To learn more about each stage of development and the common characteristics that dominate each of the stages, please view the Power Point presentation -- "Act Your Age: Ages and Stages of Youth Development".