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5 Developmental Milestones: 5 - 6 Years Old

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Learn about the social, emotional, physical and intellectual milestones of children in your child's age group.

Click on an item in the set below to see more info.

Kindergarten, A Special Time

Most 5 to 6 year olds enroll in kindergarten. For many children this is the first time leaving caregivers for long periods of time. These kids continue to: Discriminate make-believe from real-life. Become comfortable with gender. Make connections and distinctions between feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

Physical Growth

Traits: Dresses and undresses. Independently cares for toileting needs. May prefer plain cooking but will sometimes try new foods. Hand-eye coordination problems may develop due to far-sightedness.

Advice for Parents: Allow for independent dressing. Get an eye examination if needed. Offer a variety of yummy foods. Don't force child to eat unwillingly.

Cognitive Development

Traits: Knows colors, letters, and numbers. Identifies coins for their values. Prints letters. Follows instructions. Only tries what he knows he can do. May lisp. Can stutter when nervous.

Advice for Parents: Allow opportunities to print name or short words. Reinforce known skills. Encourage participation in new activities. Don't focus on language problems, as they may be temporary.

Social Growth

Traits: Plays with boys and girls, but prefers playmates of the same sex. Plays in groups or one-on-one. Converses during meals. Interested where babies come from. Judges people who don't conform.

Advice for Parents: Allow group play. Encourage and respond to conversations started by child. Offer simple and accurate explanations to questions. Teach value of individual differences.

Emotional Characteristics

Traits: Wants to please adults. Embarrasses easily. May fear the dark, dogs, or bodily harm. Can bite nails, blink eyes, suck thumb, or twitch nose if nervous, upset, or tired.

Advice for Parents: Be sensitive to embarrassment and fears. Show love. Deal with the cause of tension rather than the nervous habit.

Moral Maturation

Traits: Desires to do what he believes is right and wrong. May tell tall tales or blame others due to strong desire to please and do right.

Advice for Parents: Help child accept responsibility in a positive, caring way. Don't blame for what he believes is right or wrong.

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Possible Setbacks?

Kindergartener may struggle with: Inhibited play or speech. Bullies. Leaving parents. Fear of strangers or animals. Toileting. Bedwetting. These struggles may also be present for children ages 3 to 7.

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