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Milestones for 5-Year-Olds

Overview

Children usually progress in a natural, predictable sequence from one developmental milestone to the next. But each child grows and gains skills at their own pace. Some children may be advanced in one area, such as language. But they may be behind in another area, such as sensory and motor development.

Milestones usually are grouped into five major areas: physical growth, cognitive development, emotional and social development, language development, and sensory and motor development.

Physical growth and development

Most children by age 5:

  • Have gained about 4.4 lb (2 kg) and grown 1.5 in. (4 cm) to 2 in. (5 cm) since their fourth birthday.

Go to www.cdc.gov/growthcharts to see the high and low percentiles for normal weight and growth.

Thinking and reasoning (cognitive development)

Most children by age 5:

  • Know their address and phone number.
  • Recognize most letters of the alphabet.
  • Can count 10 or more objects.
  • Know the names of at least 4 colors.
  • Understand the basic concepts of time.
  • Know what household objects are used for, such as money, food, or appliances.

Emotional and social development

Most children by age 5:

  • Want to please and be liked by their friends, though they may sometimes be mean to others.
  • Agree to rules most of the time.
  • Show independence.
  • Are more able to distinguish fantasy from reality. But they enjoy playing make-believe and dress-up.
  • Have distinct ways of playing. Some children play in rough or physically active ways. Other children of the same age are more likely to engage in social play.

Language development

Most children by age 5:

  • Carry on a meaningful conversation with another person.
  • Understand relationships between objects, such as "the boy who is jumping rope."
  • Use the future tense, such as "Let's go to the zoo tomorrow!"
  • Often call people (or objects) by their relationship to others, such as "Bobby's mom" instead of "Mrs. Smith."
  • Talk about or tell stories. They have little or no trouble being understood by others.

Sensory and motor development

Most children by age 5:

  • Somersault and possibly skip.
  • Swing and climb.
  • Hop on one foot.
  • Use the toilet by themselves. They may still wet the bed, though.

By age 5, most children can use their hands and fingers (fine motor skills) to:

  • Copy triangles and other geometric shapes.
  • Draw a person with a head, a body, arms, and legs.
  • Dress and undress on their own. But they may still need help to tie their shoelaces.
  • Write some lowercase and capital letters from the alphabet.
  • Eat with a fork, spoon, and maybe a flatware knife.

Credits

Current as of: September 20, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Louis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics

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