Child Development: Milestones for 5 Years

Child Development: Milestones for 5 years

While every child is unique and special, most children demonstrate specific skills or tasks by a certain age. These “developmental milestones” cover everything from physical growth, cognitive and language development, to social and motor development. Smiling for the first time, looking at your face, waving “bye-bye,” crawling, and taking the first step are all considered developmental milestones.

Why are developmental milestones important?

Developmental milestones are important markers to help you track your child’s developmental health. These milestones are used by parents, pediatricians, and many other care providers to ensure that your child is developing as expected, and can help identify and address delayed development to facilitate early interventions.

"Milestones are categorized around five major areas: physical growth, cognitive development, emotional and social development, language development, and sensory and motor development," explains Cari Whitlock, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist at Healthy Young Minds. "Milestones help you understand how your child learns and grows, and delays in any of these areas can result in mild to severe struggles at home and school. Proper assessment can lead to services that help your child reach their full potential."

How to track a 5 year old’s developmental milestones

Many pediatricians work from standardized forms to assess and track your child’s developmental milestones. As a parent, it’s important to keep track of the skills your child exhibits as they grow, since you are most familiar and involved in their day-to-day care. There are multiple tracking apps out there, including the Milestone Tracker App from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Child Development Milestones: 5 Years

Cognitive milestones

  • Counts up to 10

  • Names some number between 1 and 5 when you point to them

  • Uses words about time (yesterday, morning, night)

  • Pays attention for 5-10 minutes during activities, such as story time or making a craft (screen time not included)

  • Names some letter when you point to them

Physical milestones

  • Buttons some buttons

  • Hops on one foot

  • Writes some letters in their name

Language milestones

  • Tells a story they heard or made up with at least two events

  • Answer simple questions about a book or story after you read it

  • Keeps a conversation going with more than three back-and-forth exchanges

  • Uses or recognizes simple rhymes (hat-bat, go-toe)

Social emotional milestones

  • Follows rules or takes turns when playing games with other children

  • Sings, dances, or acts for you

  • Does simple chores at home

What are the cognitive milestones for a 5 year old?

At this age, your child can pay attention longer during activities (about 5-10 minutes) such as story time or making a craft (screen time not included). Your child is learning a lot and can count up to 10, uses words about time, and names some letters when you point to them. They will be interested in reading simple picture books and may recognize some sight words. During this time, set aside time to play with your child and also make time for free play (unstructured time) to explore their environments.

What are the physical milestones for a 5 year old?

At this age, your child is proud of their ability to perform new physical skills. They may say ‘Look at me!’ while jumping rope or hopping on one foot. Your child may be ready to learn how to ride a bike and begin playing some team sports. Your child is becoming more independent as their fine motor skills improve; they may button some buttons or practice zipping their jacket, brush their hair, and tie their shoes. They might also copy simple shapes with a pencil and write their own name. Encourage your child to move their bodies with sports and recreational activities and include your child in household chores, like putting clothes away or setting the table.

What are the speech and language milestones for a 5 year old?

At this age, children talk a lot! You may notice your child telling a story they heard or made up with at least two events. After reading a book together, your child will answer simple questions about the story and recognize simple rhymes while reading (hat/bat, go/toe). Your child is using more complex sentences, up to nine words and having more adult-like conversations with more back and forth exchanges. Continue to read with your child and practice conversation skills by talking about your favorite things by listening and asking questions.

What are the social and emotional milestones for a 5 year old?

Your five year old will express their feelings and may need your help to identify their feelings and manage them. Your child will follow simple rules and take turns when playing games with other children. Keep playing with your child (singing, dancing, and acting); they will likely want to perform for you. They are becoming more independent and will participate in chores and love making small decisions, like what clothes they want to wear or what they want to eat for a snack.

What if my child is not meeting milestones?

No one knows your child better than you. Always trust your gut. If your child is not meeting age-appropriate milestones, talk to your pediatrician.

Learn more about when you should worry about missing developmental milestones.

If you or someone you know are currently involved in a serious crisis, please call 911 to connect with local emergency services that can help to resolve the situation. For other situations refer to our Mental Health Crisis Resources.

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