It's the first day of school and you can't wait to get to your classroom to see your friends. When you get there, you immediately notice that some things have changed. Maybe you're suddenly taller than most of the kids in your class. Or perhaps everyone else suddenly seems taller than you. What's going on here?

As you grow up, one thing you learn along the way is that not everyone grows at the same rate. Not everyone is the same height at the same time and every person weighs a different amount. Why? That's just the way it is. Each person is unique in his or her own way. Our bodies all tend to grow at different rates.

So don't worry whether you're “normal" or not. If you look around, you'll realize that there's really no such thing as normal. We're all different. How do we all get to be so different? We grow and mature in different ways! Each person's body grows and develops at its own individual pace.

Much of how you look depends upon your parents. When you were born, you received half of your genes from your mom and half from your dad. Those genes play a large role in determining the exact characteristics and traits you'll develop, such as how tall you'll be, what you'll look like, what color your eyes will be, and whether or not you'll have freckles.

When it comes to height, how tall you'll be is one of the thousands of features your genes will play a large role in deciding. For example, if both of your parents are tall, you'll probably be tall, too. If one parent is tall and the other is short, you might fall somewhere in between.

Genes aren't the only factor in your growth and eventual height, however. You also need to eat right, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly to grow to your full potential. Eating unhealthy foods, staying up too late, and not exercising can definitely have a negative impact on your growth.

Although there's no “normal" amount of growth, most kids — on average — grow about two inches each year from the age of three until they start puberty. Puberty is a growth stage in which your body goes through many changes and you become more grown up.

One of the features of puberty in most kids is the growth spurt. You may notice you're starting puberty if you grow a lot in a very short time. During puberty, an average boy or girl might grow four inches in a year — twice the usual average!

On average, girls start puberty between the ages of 8 and 13, while boys start between the ages of 9 and 15. That's why many girls might grow taller than boys for a while in the late elementary school years.

Depending upon when you start puberty, you could continue growing for several more years. Girls who start puberty late often continue growing into their late teens. Boys who start puberty late have been known to grow taller into their early 20s!

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