Parents Guide to Developmental Milestones


Milestones at 5 Years

Movement milestones

  • Stands on one foot for ten seconds or longer
  • Hops, somersaults
  • Swings, climbs
  • May be able to skip

Milestones in hand and finger skills

  • Copies triangle and other geometric patterns
  • Draws person with body
  • Prints some letters
  • Dresses and undresses without assistance
  • Uses fork, spoon, and (sometimes) a table knife
  • Usually cares for own toilet needs

Language milestones

  • Recalls part of a story
  • Speaks sentences of more than five words
  • Uses future tense
  • Tells longer stories
  • Says name and address

Cognitive milestones

  • Can count ten or more objects
  • Correctly names at least four colors
  • Better understands the concept of time
  • Knows about things used every day in the home (money, food, appliances)

Social and emotional milestones

  • Wants to please friends
  • Wants to be like her friends
  • More likely to agree to rules
  • Likes to sing, dance, and act
  • Shows more independence and may even visit a next-door neighbor by herself
  • Aware of sexuality
  • Able to distinguish fantasy from reality
  • Sometimes demanding, sometimes eagerly cooperative

Developmental health watch

Because each child develops in her own particular manner, it’s impossible to predict exactly when or how your own preschooler will perfect a given skill. The developmental milestones listed here will give you a general idea of the changes you can expect as your child gets older, but don’t be alarmed if her development takes a slightly different course. Alert your pediatrician, however, if your child displays any of the following signs of possible developmental delay for this age range.

  • Exhibits extremely fearful or timid behavior
  • Exhibits extremely aggressive behavior
  • Is unable to separate from parents without major protest
  • Is easily distracted and unable to concentrate on any single activity for more than five minutes
  • Shows little interest in playing with other children
  • Refuses to respond to people in general, or responds only superficially
  • Rarely uses fantasy or imitation in play
  • Seems unhappy or sad much of the time
  • Doesn’t engage in a variety of activities
  • Avoids or seems aloof with other children and adults
  • Doesn’t express a wide range of emotions
  • Has trouble eating, sleeping, or using the toilet
  • Can’t differentiate between fantasy and reality
  • Seems unusually passive
  • Cannot understand two-part commands using prepositions (“Put the cup on the table”; “Get the ball under the couch.”)
  • Can’t correctly give her first and last name
  • Doesn’t use plurals or past tense properly when speaking
  • Doesn’t talk about her daily activities and experiences
  • Cannot build a tower of six to eight blocks
  • Seems uncomfortable holding a crayon
  • Has trouble taking off her clothing
  • Cannot brush her teeth efficiently
  • Cannot wash and dry her hands