Milestones for Kids
Children acquire key life skills by their 5th birthday. Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving “bye bye” are called developmental milestones. As children age, they reach milestones by partaking in routine activities such as playing, learning, speaking, acting, moving (e.g., crawling and walking), and interacting with their primary caregivers.
It’s important that caregivers, family members, and family friends understand and recognize developmental milestones and know what to do when you have concerns about a child’s development.
Five is an exciting age for many children. It marks the year that most children enter kindergarten– leaving their family for the first time to engage in a formal education with their peers. By age 5, kids should be able to count 10 or more objects without assistance.
By age 5, kids should also regularly demonstrate the following skills and behaviors.
Social and Emotional
- Wants to please friends
- Wants to be like friends
- More likely to agree with rules
- Likes to sing, dance, and act
- Is aware of gender
- Can tell what’s real and what’s make-believe
- Shows more independence
- Is sometimes demanding and sometimes very cooperative
- Speaks very clearly
- Tells a simple story using full sentences
- Uses future tense; for example, “Grandma will be here.”
- Says name and address
Cognitive (learning, thinking, problem-solving)
- Counts 10 or more things
- Can draw a person with at least 6 body parts
- Can print some letters or numbers
- Copies a triangle and other geometric shapes
- Knows about things used every day, like money and food
- Stands on one foot for 10 seconds or longer
- Hops; may be able to skip
- Can do a somersault
- Uses a fork and spoon and sometimes a table knife
- Can use the toilet on their own
- Swings and climbs
If you suspect that your child is falling short of their age-appropriate milestones, act early. Tell your child’s doctor or nurse if you notice any signs of possible a delay, and talk with someone in your community who is familiar with services for young children. Caregivers can contact Tennessee’s Early Childhood Services for direction. United Way partners with local organizations that can offer vital assistance to kids and families as well. These organizations offer various programs and services and serve as a great resource for infants and school-age children:
- High Hopes Development Center
- Mercy Community Healthcare
- Nurses for Newborns of Tennessee
- Waves, Inc.