Ages and Stages for Preschool

As the parent of a 5-year-old, the next big stage you'll see in your child's development is most likely the preparation for, and adjustment to, the routine of attending school, since this is the age that most children go to kindergarten. This transition remains an important focus for families, even if their children have already been exposed to preschool. Not only is school a focal point in a 5-year-old's life, but so are social relationships.

Trying to make a generalization that applies to all 5-year-olds is like trying to make one about all adults — it is next to impossible to do, given they are unique individuals with a wide range of personalities, talents, and issues. That said, there are some general milestones that most 5-year-olds reach some time during the year, including:

Starting school. Adjusting to kindergarten and all that goes along with school is perhaps one of the biggest accomplishments of most 5-year-olds.

Increased poise, coordination, and stamina. While only a few are truly skilled at shooting baskets or scoring soccer goals, just about all 5-year-olds are able to hop, skip and jump, throw (and sometimes catch) a ball, and climb the stairs without effort.

Losing the first tooth. Children commonly begin to lose baby teeth somewhere between 5 and 6 years of age, soon to be replaced by their permanent, or "secondary" teeth. If parents have a history of losing their first tooth at a later age, however, the same is more likely to be true for their children.

Understanding harder concepts and increasing their vocabulary. Five-year-olds typically can understand and apply concepts such as "under," "over," "because," "why," "before," and "after." They often have vocabularies of more than 2,000 words.

Developing reading skills. In general, 5-year-olds can not only write the letters of the alphabet, but also identify the sounds that correspond with many of them. Reading is a skill that a handful of children excel in, sometimes starting as early as 3 or 4 years of age. However, the vast majority of children learn to read in kindergarten.

Tying shoes and buttoning buttons. Whether or not 5-year-olds have mastered this skill obviously depends on how often they have actually been exposed to shoelaces, since Velcro seems to be the hottest thing since sliced bread these days when it comes to children's footwear. But for the most part, children are usually capable of both tying their own shoes and buttoning their own buttons before the age of 6.

Telling right from wrong. Children at this age begin to not only tell right from wrong, but also start to care more about doing the "right" thing. That said, they still tend to be prone to telling tales and doing things they're not supposed to do.



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