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5-Year-Old Child Development: Cognitive Development

An inside look at what a 5-year-old child learns and understands


A young girl doing her home work
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What goes on in the mind of a 5-year-old? Quite a lot.

The 5-year-old child development phase is an exciting time. This is the age when many children begin kindergarten and enter into the world of school, complete with classroom rules and even homework. Five-year-olds will begin learning more about the world around them, and will gain new confidence as they develop new skills and understandings.

Reading and Writing
Many 5-year-olds have already mastered the alphabet. They are able to write letters and are familiar with their corresponding sounds. Reading abilities can vary at this age; while some children may be just beginning to learn simple words, others may be reading first-grade level books.

Generally, 5-year-old children can remember stories and can repeat them in broad terms (details may be tricky for them). They understand that stories have a beginning, a middle, and an ending.

Numbers and Math
Numbers begin to take on meaning for 5-year-olds as they learn numbers and how to count. For instance, they being to understand that the number 5 represents 5 of something.

They will learn shapes such as triangle and square if they don't know them already, and may even begin to learn three-dimensional shapes such as cubes and cones.

Five-year-olds can understand concepts such as "above," "below," "before," "after," "more," and "less." They are able to grasp concepts of time, such as "yesterday," "today" and "tomorrow."

A 5-year-old child’s imagination will blossom as she increasingly begins to engage in more complex playing involving make-believe.

Songs and Games
Many 5-year-olds enjoy singing and dancing, and their natural love of repetition will dovetail nicely into learning songs and movements. Many kids this age also enjoy telling jokes (though many won’t be able to tell them correctly or understand punch lines very well). Five-year-olds also love competing with others at board games and other activities (though many 5-year-olds may become upset at losing and will need to work on how to deal with not winning a game).

More About Your Five-Year-Old Child's Development

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