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Your Child's Development: 5 Years

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
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Doctors use certain milestones to tell if a preschooler is developing as expected. There's a wide range of what's considered normal, so some children gain skills earlier or later than others.

Kids who were born prematurely may reach milestones later. Always talk with your doctor about your child's progress.

Here are things preschoolers usually do by this age:

Communication and Language Skills

  • tell a story they heard or made up with at least 2 events
  • answers simple question about a story after hearing it
  • keep a conversation going with more than 3 back-and-forth exchanges
  • use or recognize simple rhymes, like bat-cat

Movement and Physical Development 

  • button some buttons
  • hop on one foot

Social and Emotional Development

  • follow rules or take turns when playing games
  • sing, dance, or act for you
  • do simple chores, like clearing the table after eating

Cognitive Skills (Thinking and Learning)

  • count to 10
  • name some letters; name numbers between 1 and 5 when you point to them
  • use words about time, like yesterday or tomorrow, morning or night
  • pay attention for 5–10 minutes during activities, like arts and crafts (screen time does not count)
  • write some letters in their name

When Should I Call the Doctor?

You know your child best. So share your concerns — even little ones — with your child's doctor.

If your preschooler is not meeting one or more milestones or you notice that your child had skills but has lost them, tell your doctor.

To learn more about early signs of developmental problems, go to the CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early program.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: May 2022