A 5-year-old practising her development skills by playing a board game with her little brother

Developmental stages 5-6 years

Right now, your child can alternate between feeling big one day and little the next. Although they’re still mostly centred on themselves, they’re beginning to understand others better. They thrive when playing and when together with others. They often like to co-operate and take responsibility. They’re often caring towards others. They understand that there’s something special about having friends and being a friend.

A 5-year-old hanging up her backpack on a wooden kid's hanger in the entryway.

Toys for the 5-years-old

They now need larger and larger spaces in which to move about as their bodies grow. Their arms and legs are growing, and their movements can be a little clumsy. It’s a good idea to practise different activities together, such as jumping, running, throwing, bouncing, and catching. Many children like to walk on balance beams, do somersaults, and cycle. Some learn to ski and skate or swim. They like playing games such as Simon Says, Musical Chairs, and Sleeping Lions.

Many like telling their own fairy tales. The child speaks using complete sentences and asks many questions. They want to be able to start writing their name and start trying to spell short words. Some start reading a little. Read lots of fairy tales and make your own books using your child’s stories and pictures that they’ve drawn. The child starts getting better at distinguishing fantasy from reality. They also get better at reasoning and drawing conclusions. They find it easier to manage their feelings and those of others. Their empathy develops.

Many children enjoy playing games and doing crafts. Routine, agreement, rules, and justice are important. They become better at making small movements with their fingers, holding pens between their thumb and forefinger, drawing more detailed drawings, making necklaces with small beads, and cutting with scissors. They can now sit still and focus on one thing for longer periods. The child mostly learns through play, but they’re more prepared for tasks and like to play school.

See all stages here

Author: Benita Hammarström
Specialist nurse in health care for children and young people.