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Your Child at 5 Years


How your child plays, learns, speaks, acts and moves offers important clues about your child’s development. Developmental milestones are the things most children (75% or more) can do by a certain age.

Check the milestones your child has reached by age 5, and talk with your child’s doctor at every visit about the milestones your child has reached and what to expect next.

What Most Children Do at This Age:

Social / Emotional

  • Follows rules or takes turns when playing games with other children
  • Sings, dances, or acts for you
  • Does simple chores at home, like matching socks or clearing the table after eating

Language / Communication

  • Tells a story she heard or made up with at least two events. For example, a cat was stuck in a tree and a firefighter saved it
  • Answers simple questions about a book or story after you read or tell it to him
  • Keeps a conversation going with more than three back-and-forth exchanges
  • Uses or recognizes simple rhymes (bat-cat, ball-tall)

Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Counts to 10
  • Names some numbers between 1 and 5 when you point to them
  • Uses words about time, like “yesterday,” “tomorrow,” “morning,” or “night”
  • Pays attention for 5 to 10 minutes during activities. For example, during storytime or making arts and crafts (screen time does not count)
  • Writes some letters in her name
  • Names some letters when you point to them

Movement / Physical Development

  • Buttons some buttons
  • Hops on one foot


Other Important Things to Share with the Doctor

  • What are some things you and your child do together?
  • What are some things your child likes to do?
  • Is there anything your child does or does not do that concerns you?
  • Has your child lost any skills he/she once had?
  • Does your child have any special healthcare needs or was he/she born prematurely?

Concerned about your child’s development?

You know your child best. Don’t wait. If your child is not meeting one or more milestones, has lost skills he or she once had, or you have other concerns, act early. Talk with your child’s doctor, share your concerns, and ask about developmental screening.

If you or the doctor are still concerned:

  • Ask for a referral to a specialist who can evaluate your child more; and
  • Call your state or territory’s early intervention program to find out if your child can get services to help. Learn more and find the number at cdc.gov/FindEI.

For more on how to help your child, visit cdc.gov/Concerned.


Help Your Child Learn and Grow.

What You Can Do for Your 5-Year-Old

As your baby’s first teacher, you can help his or her learning and brain development. Try these simple tips and activities in a safe way. Talk with your child’s doctor and teachers if you have questions or for more ideas on how to help your baby’s development.

  • Your child might start to “talk back” in order to feel independent and test what happens. Limit the attention you give to the negative words. Find alternative activities for her to do that allow her to take the lead and be independent. Make a point of noticing good behavior. “You stayed calm when I told you it’s bedtime.”
  • Ask your child what she is playing. Help her expand her answers by asking “Why?” and “How?” For example, say “That’s a nice bridge you’re building. Why did you put it there?”
  • Play with toys that encourage your child to put things together, such as puzzles and building blocks.
  • Use words to help your child begin to understand time. For example, sing songs about the days of the week and let him know what day it is. Use words about time, such as today, tomorrow, and yesterday.
  • Let your child do things for himself, even if he doesn’t do it perfectly. For example, let him make his bed, button his shirt, or pour water into a cup. Celebrate when he does it and try not to “fix” anything you don’t have to.
  • Talk about and label your child’s and your own feelings. Read books and talk about the feelings characters have and why they have them.
  • Play rhyming games. For example, say “What rhymes with cat?”
  • Teach your child to follow rules in games. For example, play simple board games, card games, or Simon Says.
  • Create a spot in your home for your child to go to when he’s upset. Stay nearby so your child knows he is safe and can come to you for help calming as needed.
  • Set limits for screen time (TV, tablets, phones, etc.) for your child, to no more than 1 hour per day. Make a media use plan for your family.
  • Eat meals with your child and enjoy family time talking together. Give the same meal to everyone. Avoid screen time (TV, tablets, phones, etc.) during mealtime. Let your child help prepare the healthy foods and enjoy them together.
  • Encourage your child to “read” by looking at the pictures and telling the story.
  • Play games that help with memory and attention. For example, play card games, Tic Tac Toe, I Spy, or Hot and Cold.

Content provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” material and are not a substitute for a standardized, validated developmental screening tool.

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