Do you stay within word count when submitting to a children's magazine? I hope so. Yet, some writers think it's okay to push the limit. Once, a writer sent Kid's Imagination Train a 1200-word article. That's a bit too long—700 words over the limit. KIT accepts fiction and nonfiction that run about 500 words.
It is clear to me that this writer didn't read (or understand) our guidelines. What a shame because it wastes my time and the writer's time. Had the requirements been reviewed, this writer may have sent an appropriate piece that KIT would love to publish.
Magazine editors post word counts not to challenge or frustrate writers, but to encourage writers to create pieces that are suitable for their audience. Five hundred words or less is an appropriate length for young children because it's short enough to keep kids engaged. Anything longer may result in losing a child's attention. In fact, other editors will tell you that even adults lose interest in reading lengthy pieces online.
Here are some general rules: twenty to fifty words over the count is generally okay. Going over by one hundred words is iffy. Pushing the count to several hundred words over the limit is a no-no. Just don't go there.
Writing for children requires that you write concisely. If you want to get published in the children's markets, make it a point to read the guidelines and stay close to the expected word count.