Five Years


  • Permanent teeth are starting to appear in some children. 
  • Displays left-right handedness. 
  • Builds elaborate structures. 
  • Tires easily. 
  • Bathes, eats, dresses, toilets independently. 
  • Begins to participate in semi-structured games. 
  • Enjoys active games and movement. 
  • Enjoys playing noisy rhythm instruments. 
  • Is curious about reproduction and birth.
  • Begins to express more feelings in words. 
  • Embarrasses easily, and cannot yet laugh at self. 
  • Feelings about death appear. 
  • Shows guilt over misbehavior. 
  • Likes independence. 
  • Is serious and dependable.
  • Submits to more rules and regulations. 
  • May tattle, name-call, hit and shove at times. 
  • Distinguishes between sex roles. 
  • Cooperates in simple group tasks. 
  • Likes to please adults. 
  • Takes turns during playing and speaking. 
  • Gets along comfortably with other children. 
  • Is keenly interested in family activities.
  • Begins to recognize a few letters and words. 
  • Sustains activities over longer periods of time. 
  • Has developed an overall image of self. 
  • Craves facts. 
  • Names simple colors. 
  • Understands left and right on self. 
  • Has a vocabulary of about 2,000 to 2,500 words. 
  • Can help with easy, household chores. 
  • Can learn address and phone number. 
  • Can think some things through. 
  • Counts to ten. 
  • Begins to understand concepts of opposites. 
  • Can speak in sentences of 6 to 8 words. 
  • Identifies coins. 
  • Engages in elaborate dramatic play. 
  • Understands concepts of morning, afternoon, night, yesterday, today and tomorrow. 
  • Is better able to distinguish make-believe from real life.


  • Children at this age usually have good appetites, though it varies from meal to meal. Plain, simple foods are preferred. Snacks continue to be important and should be nutritious. Good choices include cheese, fresh fruits or vegetables, peanut butter, milk or unsweetened fruit juices. A variety of food from the basic four food groups should be eaten daily.
  • Food Group Serving Size Recommendations 
    • Milk and Cheese 1/2 cup milk or yogurt, 3/4 ounce cheese 
    • Meat or Substitute 1 oz. Cooked meat, poultry, fish, 1 egg, 1/2 cup cooked dried beans, 2 tbsp. peanut butter 
    • Bread or Cereal 1/2 slice bread, 1/2 cup cereal or rice 
    • Fruits and Vegetables 1/4 cup vegetables, 1/2 cup fruit juice, 1/2 piece fresh fruit,1/4 cup canned fruit


  • Regular dental care and trips to the dentist are important. Teeth should be brushed twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste-once by a parent and once by your child. Limit between meal sweets, candy and soda pops. Try not to use sweets as rewards.


  • Make sure your child is always properly restrained in a car seat (if less than 40 lbs./40 inches) or a booster seat with a shoulder belt, or a shield-type booster seat with a lap belt. 
  • Keep car doors locked when traveling. 
  • Never leave your child alone in the car or in the house. 
  • Teach street safety. Your child is too young to cross the street alone. 
  • Install smoke alarms on every floor and check batteries monthly. 
  • Show your child how to respond to clothing fire: Stop-drop-roll 
  • Supervise all swimming and water play. Insist on life jacket use when in a boat or near the water. 
  • All guns should be unloaded and put in a locked cabinet. 
  • Caution about hiding places that are unsafe, i.e., old refrigerators, car trunks, clothes dryers.

Toys / Stimulation

  • Play is important activity. 
  • Toys that help develop muscle skill include roller skates, jungle gyms, bicycles with training wheels, large blocks, small tools, Tinker toys and jump ropes. 
  • Toys that tend to encourage imagination include household furniture, dishes, dress-up clothes, medical kits, empty food boxes, play money, playhouse and tents. 
  • Puzzles, dominoes, marking pens, modeling clay, blunt scissors, dot-to-dot and coloring books are helpful in developing small muscle skills. 
  • Planting a garden, caring for a fish or hamster, baking cookies, preparing simple foods, baking bread or caring for a plant can be fun, rewarding, and begin to teach responsibility.

Kindergarten Readiness

  • School systems vary in their cut off dates by which children must be five years old to enter kindergarten. Your school may offer screening for kindergarten readiness for those whose birthday falls close to the deadline. Screening usually includes a team of professionals to check your child’s readiness skills. Your child may be asked to perform tasks such as copy a design, remember story details, throw and catch a ball, tell a story in sequence, and walk in a balance beam. Screening does not necessarily predict success in kindergarten, only readiness. 
  • Helping prepare your child for kindergarten involves learning skills in small repetitive doses but without pressure. A parental attitude will be communicated to your child-if you’re hesitant, your child will be too. Encourage your child. Play and talk with your child. Say aloud the names of objects in your home and in books. Compare things that are big and little, fast and slow, hot and cold. Talk about colors and shapes. Count simple objects and match shapes that are alike. Make learning fun! Help your child learn the letters of the alphabet and parts of the body. The most important preparation is to instill a positive attitude about going to school, learning new things and meeting new friends. 
  • Limit the amount and monitor the quality of television. 
  • Continue to read aloud to your child.