Development (5 - 6 Years)

Ways to Encourage Development (5 - 6 years)

Muscle Skills

  • Provide adequate space for large muscle activities (e.g., throwing and catching balls).
  • Provide ample materials for using small muscles (e.g., cutting, pasting, drawing and sewing).
  • Encourage rhythm activities; provide simple musical instruments (e.g., drums and cymbals).
  • Provide building and carpentry experiences.
  • Encourage child’s interest in printing letters, own name.

5 - 6 year old runningLanguage Skills

  • Continue encouraging new vocabulary by reading longer stories and poetry. Define new words and concepts.
  • Provide field trips to explore child’s neighborhood (e.g., post office, fire station, library, etc.).
  • Encourage use of reference books – help child look up answers to questions and special interests (e.g., dinosaurs or snakes).
  • Listen to child. Give positive feedback verbally and nonverbally.

Social and Emotional Skills

  • Give child message that he/she is loved and valued. (“I’m glad you’re here today.”)
  • Reinforce cooperative group behaviors.
  • Model appropriate coping skills and expression of feelings.
  • Encourage responsibility for small chores.
  • Provide opportunities for child to help younger or less skilled child.
  • Provide clear rules and consequences.

Thinking Skills

  • Play games that have a few clear directions (e.g., board games and checkers).
  • Provide opportunity for simple science experiments (e.g., magnets, water to ice/steam).
  • Present relevant problems or use actual situations to let children provide possible solutions.
  • Provide variety of objects for counting games.

Developmental Tasks (5 - 6 years)

Muscle Skills

  • Catches a bounced tennis ball two out of three tries; throws a ball well.
  • Draws a six‑part figure with more details.
  • Sews with large needle and yarn or thread.
  • Ties a bow.
  • Walks backward and forward with heels and toes 1 inch apart in a straight line.
  • Dances and marches to music.
  • May ride bicycle instead of tricycle (reinforce use of bicycle helmet).

Language Skills

  • Defines objects by their use (e.g., eat with fork or swim in lake).
  • Tells what common objects are made of (e.g., door made of wood; spoon made of silver or plastic).
  • Has vocabulary of around 2,000 words. Sentence length six-plus words.
  • Uses all types of sentences, some complex (e.g., “I can go in the house after I take off my muddy shoes.”).
  • Uses most of the speech sounds correctly (possible exceptions: t, v, l, th, j, z and zh).

Social and Emotional Skills

  • Has sense of humor; plans surprises and jokes.
  • Prefers own age group for play; plays cooperatively; likes to conform.
  • Expresses sympathy for others; protects younger children.
  • Displays pride in abilities and possessions.
  • Expresses thoughts and feelings through dramatic play with a variety of toys.
  • Copies behavior of significant adults and peers.
  • Begins to resolve conflicts considering the other child’s feelings.

Thinking Skills

  • Has longer attention span – more than 15 minutes. Remembers previous experiences better.
  • Counts objects to 10: identifies nickels, dimes and pennies. Groups items according to shape, size, color and function.
  • Follows three‑step directions (e.g., “Get your coat; put it on; and then stand by the back door”).
  • States full name, age and gender.
  • Does more complex problem solving.
  • Is interested in why and how things work.
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