What Children Should Be Able to Do by Age 5

If you are like me you like, no – correction, LOVE lists.  I loves lists.  Looking at a list is a quick and easy way to figure out what you need to accomplish.  When it comes to early childhood education there are a ton of list out there that will give you helpful guideline on the milestone that your child should reach.

My sons just started preschool.  But instead of looking at a breakdown by age of what he should be able to do I believe in making things a little easier.  Preschool is all about getting ready for Kindergarten.  So what I’m interested in is making sure we aim to reach accomplishments that you can except for your child by age 5.  I don’t really feel the need to have a check list for age 3 and a check list for age 4.  It’s just my personal preference.

This list is based on  research in the fields of reading, early childhood education, and child development.  Remember that children don’t develop and learn at the same pace and in the same way.  I knew you knew that.  It’s just good to be reminded from time to time.  Each kid is different and your kid may be more advanced or need more help that others in the same age group.  These are just guidelines after all.

Spoken Language

A five-year-old child:

  • Understands and follows oral (or spoken) directions
  • Uses new words and longer sentences when speaking
  • Recognizes the beginning sounds of words and sounds that rhyme
  • Listens carefully when books are read aloud


A five-year-old child:

  • Shows interest in books and reading
  • Might try to read, calling attention to himself and showing pride in what he can do (“See, I can read this book!”)
  • Can follow the series of events in some stories
  • Can connect what happens in books to her life and experiences
  • Asks questions and make comments that show he understands the book he is listening to

Print and Letters

A five-year-old child:

  • Knows the difference between print (words) and pictures and know that print is what you read
  • Recognizes print around him or signs, on television, on boxes, and many others places
  • Understands that writing has a lot of different purposes (example, signs tell where something is located, lists can be used for grocery shopping, directions can tell you how to put something together)
  • Knows that each letter in the alphabet has a name
  • Can name at least 10 letters in the alphabet, especially the ones in her name
  • “Writes”, or scribbles, messages