What to Expect: Age 5

By the time kindergarten is close, your child is a wellspring of imagination and conversation. This magical age brings about new skills and capabilities that expand their small worlds. Your child is going to continue to grow, learn new skills, and develop their relationships with others. If you have questions about what you should expect from your five-year-old, take a look at these major milestones.

Social and Emotional

By the age of five, children are generally more likely to comply with rules. According to the CDC, your child is going to be learning a whole host of social behaviors this year. While most of the behaviors and expectations of a five-year-old are wonderful for parents, you may still face the occasional battle. The argumentative nature of small children is simply one of the natural hazards of parenting.

Other social and emotional skills can include:

  • Strong desire to please peers and imitate friends
  • Awareness of gender
  • Better distinction between reality and pretend
  • Alternately demanding and cooperative
  • Greater degree of independence from parents


Language becomes significantly more robust at age five. Their vocabulary should expand past the point where parents can count the number of words their child can say. Perhaps more importantly, children should have relatively clear communication that is understood by all adults. Some say that a slight lisp at this age is common and will likely disappear by age six.

Most children can tell some stories from memory, using more complex sentence structures. Their grasp of grammar is stronger by age five. Future tense becomes more common in their speech, and your child may focus more on predicting what comes next.

They may ask more questions about why things happen or how things work. It’s normal for their curiosity to peak during these ages, as well as for them to begin exploring potential answers.


Children are learning more about the world around them each year. Around kindergarten age, most children can recite basic information about themselves like their name and address. Your child will be in the beginning stages of reading, which means they can identify some letters and copy them. Other cognitive skills can include:

  • Copying basic geometric shapes
  • Counting to ten or higher
  • Recognizing at least six body parts
  • Basic knowledge about standard items like food and money
  • Naming colors
  • Better awareness of time


Children at this age can become relatively playful as their gross motor skills continue to develop. Parents can enjoy their child’s physical independence to a greater degree. Around this age, children should be capable of independently dressing themselves and using the restroom on their own. They may also be able to use a fork and spoon regularly, as well as practice with using a dull table knife.

Playtime may become significantly more active. At five years old, many children begin to enjoy basic gymnastics such as somersaults. They are learning the coordination and balance required to swing, skip, hop, and stand on one foot for a full ten seconds. They can learn to swim and jump rope as well.

Each child will ultimately develop at their own rate, but these are milestones common to most children. If you have major concerns about whether or not your child is reaching their potential, contact your pediatrician. You may want to discuss the possibility of a developmental delay if your child is extremely behind in these benchmarks.

Overall, most five-year-olds are wonderful children with great imaginations and an even greater degree of independence. You can work to encourage these skills in your children with very little prompting. Simply sit back and let your child direct your interactions with them.




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