Five-year-old boy runs gleefully through the water, sporting a big smile. There is lots to look forward to when your child turns 5.

Fantastic 5! What to Expect with Your Child This Year

Get ready for an exciting year! With school starting and an ever-evolving vocabulary, your 5-year-old is sure to delight you with the leaps and bounds they’ll be making socially and cognitively this year. Read on to find out what’s in store for you and your little one!

Physical Development 

Your 5-year-old will be more coordinated than ever in their movement. They’ll love to get your attention and show off what they can do. From riding a bike to jumping rope and climbing a jungle gym, there’s plenty of new skills to demonstrate!

Your child will exhibit more coordination in terms of motor skills, as well. They’ll be able to use a fork and spoon and can begin practicing using a child-safe knife at the dinner table. They’ll also show more independence with tying shoes and zipping and buttoning up clothing. They’ll be eager to strengthen these skills, so this is a great time to encourage and foster independence!

Cognitive Development

This is where your child will really shine this year. With the start of school, your little one will be solidifying their knowledge of letters and letter sounds and may begin sounding out words and recognizing a few simple sight words (like “the,” “and,” “is,” etc.) They’ll be practicing their handwriting and will also be able to draw more complex pictures, such as a person with at least 6 body parts. In the area of math, your 5-year-old will be able to count to ten or more. They may even begin learning some very simple addition with the use of pictures or items. Don’t be worried if they don’t quite master this skill yet, though. This is a math concept that they’ll really start understanding in 1st grade.

Your 5-year-old’s attention span will be expanding, as well, with an average length of 12-18 minutes. It’s still quite easy for them to become distracted, however. An active and impulsive child is quite normal at this stage. Be patient and consistent with your rules and routines at home, and try to minimize screen time as much as you can. Speak with your pediatrician if you have concerns.

Language Development 

Get ready to do a whole lot of active listening as your 5-year old’s vocabulary will be expanding to about 10,000 words this year. This is quite a leap from the 1000 or so words your child knew last year! You’ll notice them having more “adult-like” conversations with full sentences. A lot of times, their brains are going faster than their mouths and they’ll struggle with expressing complex ideas. Watching these attempts will be equal parts amusing and endearing. Take the time to engage in conversation with them and give plenty of space to communicate their ideas. At school, practices like “show-and-tell” allow children to practice this skill. Consider doing similar activities with your family to give your child the proper attention and practice they need to flourish.

Social Emotional Development 

Your child is becoming progressively less self-centered at this stage. They’ll be more and more able to express their frustrations (and other emotions) verbally, rather than physically. Furthermore, they’ll be able to reason with others and wait with more patience for their needs to be met than years prior.

Socially, they’ll exhibit a preference for playing with other children rather than playing alone. They’ll be able to negotiate compromises with others. And they’ll be very eager to seek out new experiences. This is a wonderful time, more than ever, to expose them to new learning adventures. Field trips to the zoo, a museum, a nature trail, or even the library will go a long way at this stage, so be sure to seize the opportunity!

It's important to keep in mind that every child develops at their own pace and may not reach these milestones at exactly 5 years old. However, if you notice any significant delays in your child's development, it may be worth speaking to your pediatrician or a child development specialist for guidance.

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