Your child is 5-years-old! That’s significant. Five is a big one! They’re learning more every day. All of their mental, emotional, and physical functions are coming together to help them develop into, hopefully, a well-rounded human.
But how will they get there? Well, it’s your job as a parent to help them. Let’s take a look at how they should be developing around this time period. You will want to keep these developmental milestones in mind so you can look for activities that give them the opportunity to develop these skills.
Physical Development Milestones
At 5 years old, your child should be less wobbly and more confident when it comes to moving their body. You may have watched them blossom into a professional tag player who can run up and down the stairs at the speed of light.
Five-year-olds are a bundle of energy and their bodies are developing so fast, it can be hard to keep up. Here's what you can expect from your child, physically, at age five. Your child may be able to:
- Throw a ball overhand
- Kick a ball somewhat accurately
- Hop more than once on one foot
- Skip on alternate feet
- Walk up stairs while alternating their feet
- Stand on one foot for two seconds
- Catch a bounced ball most of the time
Fine motor skills develop too, especially hand-eye coordination. Your child may be able to:
- Use scissors to cut straight lines or curves
- Cut out a shape using a template or stencils
- Use utensils such as forks, spoons, and knives correctly (although they might still prefer their fingers)
- Button their own shirt
- Tie their shoes
If they’re struggling to do some of these things, it’s likely just because they haven’t had the opportunity to yet. Design activities such as hopscotch, cutting out shapes, playing with string (learning how to tie knots or braid), skipping games and more. There are so many activities you could be planning to assist your child in meeting these milestones.
Finally, your child can express themselves! It’s so much easier soothing a little human that can express what they’re feeling, rather than a crying baby. Five-year-olds should be better able to express their feelings and differentiate between emotions or have begun to develop empathy.
This means that children at this age are able to experience joy, compassion, and sadness for others. This is an important milestone to watch for in your child as it shows that their emotional development is progressing according to schedule.
Another important milestone at this age is your child's ability to recognize their own emotions and how their actions affect them. If they're not there yet, they should be soon!
A 5 year old should be able to:
- Recognize their feelings and understand them
- Understand how to deal with their feelings
- Understand how other people are feeling and what they can do to help them
- Have a sense of humor
- Have a sense of pride in their accomplishments
- Have a growing ability to use self-control and willpower
- Feel comfortable exploring new activities and situations (but still may need some support).
If you feel like your child could use some help with their emotional development, we have a few suggestions!
Using puppets or stuffed animals, act out different characters who are feeling different emotions. For example, have one puppet be very happy because it got a cookie, and another puppet be very sad because it was told it couldn't go outside to play. Have a conversation between the puppets about what they are feeling and why.
You could also show your child pictures of faces that show different emotions (there are tons of free printable sets available online if you search), and ask them to tell you what each face is feeling.
Children at this age often want to play together. They learn to share and take turns as they play. They are also beginning to accept losing, although they may still have mild tantrums over it. Children at this age might also sometimes misunderstand rules in games and become frustrated if you try to explain them. As children grow older, they begin to understand and follow more complex rules when playing sports or board games.
Social development milestones for a 5-year-old includes:
- Playing with peers
- Starting to understand how others feel
- Sharing toys with other children
- Taking turns
- Accepting losing
- Trying to make others happy
If they struggle with these things, they need more socialization. We know it's hard to see your kids play poorly with others. But, they’ll never learn socially acceptable behaviors if they don’t. Take your kid to the park, or let them play with cousins if you want to avoid playing with strangers at first.
Cognitive milestones are the steps in your child’s developing ability to think and understand. They are related to your child’s brain development.
A 5-year-old should be able to realize the difference between something real and something imaginary. They should be able to understand that something can happen at different times, but not all at once. For example, they should understand that they can eat now and play later. A 5-year-old can also remember parts of a story and explain them.
A 5-year-old has a more complex understanding of the world around them than a 3 year old, so their cognitive milestones will reflect this growing understanding. They should be able to explain what they think is fair, as well as give reasons why they think things are good or bad.
Here are some cognitive milestones a 5-year-old may reach:
- Vocabulary of 2,000+ words
- Has an attention span of five to 10 minutes for age-appropriate tasks
- Can follow three-part commands easily
- Likes to draw, copy shapes, and write his or her name
- Can use scissors, build with blocks, cut with paper, make things with clay, and copy a triangle and other geometric shapes
- Plays cooperative games with others
- Can dress and undress independently
Most of these milestones come from letting your child be independent. If they never dress themself, then they’ll never learn how to use a zipper or button up a shirt. If you’re always speaking for them, they won’t have a well-rounded vocabulary. Be sure to be patient with your kid, and let them try new things on their own.