Milestones for 5-year-olds

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

Milestones usually are categorized 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.

The following table shows the approximate high and low percentiles for normal weight and growth.1

Note:

Percentile figures are measured according to how many children are above and below the value. For example, having a child in the 10th percentile for weight and height means that 10% of all children weigh less and are shorter than the corresponding height and weight measurements. And for a child in the 90th percentile, 90% of all children are below that corresponding height and weight, and 10% of children are above them.

 

Growth chart for children, age 5
  10th percentile 90th percentile
Girls: Weight

33 lb (15 kg)

46 lb (20.9 kg)

Girls: Height

40 in. (101.6 cm)

45 in. (114.3 cm)

 
Boys: Weight

35 lb (15.9 kg)

48 lb (21.8 kg)

Boys: Height

40.5 in. (102.9 cm)

45.25 in. (114.9 cm)

Thinking and reasoning (cognitive development)

Most children by age 5:2

  • 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 5:2

  • 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 aware of sexuality.
  • Are more able to distinguish fantasy from reality but enjoy playing make-believe and dress-up.
  • Have distinct ways of playing according to gender. Most 5-year-old boys play in rough or physically active ways, whereas girls of the same age are more likely to engage in social play.

Language development

Most children by age 5:2

  • 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 5:2

  • 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, which are called 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, although they may still need help tying shoelaces.
  • Write some small and capital letters from the alphabet.
  • Eat with a fork, spoon, and possibly a flatware knife.

Citations

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000, revised). CDC growth charts: United States. Advance Data (314). Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad314.pdf.
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics (2004). Age three to five years. In SP Shelov, RE Hannemann, eds., Caring For Your Baby And Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 4th ed., chap 12, pp. 339–388. New York: Bantam.

Last Updated: March 26, 2009

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