As children grow, they reach developmental milestones.

Seeing your child reach a new milestone can be a great source of pride for parents and caregivers and also gives reassurance that your child is making progress as expected. Children develop at their own pace; some reach key milestones a little earlier or later than others. A milestone is simply an action that most children can do at a certain age. This means sitting up unaided for the youngest children, but milestones become more complex as kids get older.

It’s helpful to understand the usual milestones for children so that you can understand your child’s development and seek extra support if you have concerns. This is helpful for every age, including kids aged 5 who are becoming more independent. In this article, we’ll outline milestones for 5-year-olds and how you can monitor your child’s development.

Education resources


What skills are usually considered milestones?

A range of essential skills develops when kids are at a young age. Children normally start to reach new and exciting milestones from the age of 2 months, which continues from there. As the child ages, they can perform more complex actions, and these new milestones clearly show their development.

There is a vast range of different skills that children acquire that are milestones. The expectations for each age range are very different, but children continue to build on their skills as they age. The skills that children develop throughout early childhood can be divided into a few general areas:

  • Gross motor skills like sitting, standing, walking, and balancing
  • Fine motor skills – using their hands to perform tasks
  • Language skills such as speaking, understanding others, and using body language
  • Cognitive skills, including learning, understanding, and memory
  • Social skills like building relationships and cooperating with others

Usual milestones for 5-year-olds

5-year-olds are at an age where they’re becoming more independent from their parents and developing more sophisticated skills. This might mean that they start to challenge boundaries as a way of testing their independence. Despite this, they still need plenty of support from their parents. Children typically start kindergarten at this age so you might see big changes in their communication and social skills.

By this age, most kids have already hit several milestones, but they’re set to continue developing. Attending kindergarten and spending more time away from caregivers can mean children pick up new skills even more quickly. Although the rate at which kids develop varies, and children won’t all hit the same milestones simultaneously, these are the milestones that you should look out for in 5-year-old children.

Motor skills

Children are developing more complex fine and gross motor skills at this age. These skills are all about how they manage and use their body, from walking to holding things and writing or drawing. Some children will reach milestones in this area more rapidly than others, but some of the key things most kids should be able to do at this age are:

  • Stand on one foot for at least 10 seconds
  • Hop
  • Skip
  • Swing
  • Climb
  • Dress and undress and do up some buttons
  • Copy geometric shapes
  • Print some letters
  • Use their cutlery
  • Usually, take care of their own toilet needs

Language skills

5-year-old children are also starting to develop more sophisticated language skills. At this stage, their storytelling and conversational skills are improving and their ability to understand stories and other information. Kids can usually start to hold longer conversations. Most children at the age of 5 can:

  • Tell a story of 2 separate events
  • Recall part of a story they hear
  • Answer simple questions about a story they hear
  • Hold a conversation with more than 3 exchanges
  • Use the future tense
  • Say their full name and address

Cognitive skills

At this age, kids are also developing their cognitive skills. Developing cognitive skills is important when children enter kindergarten because these skills are vital for helping them to learn effectively. You can usually expect kids to reach several cognitive milestones by this age. You can expect a 5-year-old child to be able to:

  • Count at least 10 objects
  • Name some numbers between 1 and 5 if you point at them
  • Name some letters if you point at them
  • Write some letters in their name
  • Focus for 5-10 minutes during an activity (not including screen time)
  • Name at least 4 different colors
  • Start to understand the time better
  • Knows about everyday objects around the home

Social skills

With 5-year-old kids usually progressing to kindergarten, it means more time socializing away from parents and spending more time with other adults and kids. This often means that a child’s social skills will develop greatly at this age, and you might see rapid progress. Some of the social milestones a 5-year-old typically reaches are:

  • Following rules and taking turns when playing games with other children
  • Singing, dancing, acting, or performing for you
  • Doing simple chores like clearing the table
  • Being more independent and maybe doing some simple tasks alone
  • Wanting to please their friends and be similar to them
  • Becoming aware of sexuality
  • Able to distinguish between fantasy and reality

How can parents track childhood milestones?

As your child develops, it can be helpful to track their milestones. This is a convenient way to check that they’re developing as you expect and identify potential causes of concern. There are a variety of approaches you can use for following milestones. A simple checklist can be an easy way to chart your child’s progress. You could also keep a journal to note your child’s progress and accomplishments as they reach new milestones.

The CDC offers a digital smartphone app to make it straightforward to track your child’s development and add updates anytime. The app includes a variety of features to help parents to understand what the important childhood milestones are for every age and to keep up with the progress of their child.

Ways to support your child’s development

Children naturally develop rapidly at the age of 5, which is enhanced as they become more independent. It’s normal for parents to want to give their children as much support as possible throughout the stages of their development. The kind of support a child needs will vary as they reach different ages and pass different developmental milestones. You can encourage your child’s development during this stage in plenty of different ways. These are some of the tips and activities you can try out to help a 5-year-old with their development:

  • As your child starts to test boundaries more, limit the attention you give to negative behavior and reinforce and praise good behavior instead
  • Create an area in your home where your child can go if they feel upset and reassure them they can come to you for support if they want to
  • Create a calm bedtime routine without screens and support your child to get 10-13 hours of sleep each day, including naps
  • Let your child do things themselves, like dressing or making their bed, praise their efforts, and only fix things if it’s really necessary
  • Engage your child in conversation and encourage discussion by asking questions like “Why?” and “What happened next?”
  • Use words that build awareness of time, such as talking about what day of the week it is
  • Talk about feelings and label them
  • Eat meals together and talk as you eat. You can also involve your child in food preparation
  • Read to your child and encourage them to talk about the story by asking questions like “What do you think will happen next?”
  • Encourage your child to tell stories based on what they see in pictures in books
  • Play rhyming games
  • Play memory games
  • Encourage active play and give your child choices about what activities to do
  • Choose toys that encourage your child to put things together, such as puzzles or building blocks
  • Play games with simple rules to encourage your child to understand and follow the rules
  • Encourage your child to play and share toys with other kids – finding out about local playgroups may be helpful
  • Encourage imaginative and creative play, including arts and crafts activities
  • Explore topics that your child is interested in
  • Take your child to playgrounds and help them use the equipment
  • Limit screen time to a maximum of 1 hour per day
  • Teach your child about safe and unsafe touch and what to do if there is unwanted touching
  • Teach your child to find people who can help if they are lost or need help, like parents with children or police officers, including how to tell someone their own and your names
  • Prepare your child for new places and people, for example, by discussing starting kindergarten or reading stories on this theme together

Other factors that are important for reaching childhood milestones

Encouragement and interaction with your child are great ways to support them in meeting childhood milestones. To give your child the best possible support for reaching their developmental milestones, it’s worthwhile considering these factors. By taking care of these areas as much as possible, you can encourage your child to succeed.

Healthy eating habits

Healthy food and eating habits give your child energy and help their brains and bodies to develop. Establishing healthy eating habits at an early age can help to instill these in life. Eating family meals together also helps kids with developing social and communication skills.

Physical activity

Physical activity is vital for health and good body weight, as well as for helping young children to develop their motor skills. Active games also help children to explore the world a little more. Giving them lots of opportunities for active play can be helpful for development.


Minor health concerns like common colds are unlikely to have any long-term effects on your child’s development. However, more significant health conditions and disabilities could impact your child’s ability to meet milestones. Addressing health concerns with your doctor as quickly as possible helps to maintain your child’s well-being so that they’re more easily able to meet developmental milestones.

Environment and Community

The environment and community your child grows up in can also affect their development. Access to resources like playgroups, playgrounds, libraries, and health centers can all have an impact. Positive relationships with friends and neighbors in the area can also help your child to grow their social and communication skills.

What to do if you’re concerned about your child’s development

If you feel concerned about your child’s development, it’s important to take action as soon as possible. Keeping an accurate record of the milestones your child reaches and making notes about your concerns can make it easier to identify any potential issues and discuss them with healthcare professionals.

If you have any worries, including that your child is not meeting their milestones on time or if they’ve lost skills they had previously, the first step is to consult your pediatrician. Your doctor can assess your child and identify whether they need further support. You may be referred to a specialist doctor if this is the case. Intervention services are also available to support your child’s development in various ways, depending on their needs. Seeking support as soon as you feel concerned means that your child can get help with their development at an earlier stage, and this means that they can more easily catch up and reach their potential.

Milestones for 5-year-old kids

By the age of 5, kids are growing quickly and changing fast. They will hit several milestones around this age and develop more sophisticated skills across various areas. Staying aware of the expected milestones for this age group make it easier to track your child’s progress and see how they’re growing. If you have any concerns about how a 5-year-old is developing, it’s important to remember that support is available to help children acquire essential skills as they grow. In most cases, kids of this age can develop the important skills for them and continue to further stages in their development.