5 Years

Discover tips, tools, and support for this age

Your child’s experience in kindergarten and the time they spend with you can prepare them for lots of learning ahead! At this stage, your child may be toilet trained, have a basic grasp of math and reading, enjoy singing and dancing, and speak clearly. 

Learn more about your five-year-old’s development, explore schools options, and find free activities for kids and families below.

Brain Building

Learn through life's everyday moments

Invent a super secret handshake for you and your child. Take turns adding a step (like shaking twice). Repeat it until you both have it down. Now change one of the steps. How do they respond? Go back and forth between the new and old way.

See what your child is learning

Creating and learning a super secret handshake helps your child remember and do what is needed to achieve a goal. This is a big step in learning self-control.

Milestones

Skills children develop as they play, learn, speak, act, and move are called milestones. Learn about milestones to help you understand your child's development and act early if you have concerns.

Around 5 years old, many children:

  • Social

    • Want to make friends happy and be like them
    • Are more likely to agree with rules
    • Like to sing, dance, and act
    • Are aware of gender
    • Show more independence
    • Tell what's real and what's make-believe
    • Are sometimes tough and sometimes cooperative
  • Communication

    • Speak very clearly
    • Tell a simple story using full sentences
    • Use the future tense, for example, "Grandma will be here"
    • Can say name and address
  • Learning

    • Can count 10 or more things
    • Can draw a person with at least 6 body parts
    • Can print some letters or numbers
    • Can copy a triangle and other simple shapes
    • Know about things used every day, like money and food
  • Physical Development

    • Stand on one foot for 10 seconds
    • Can hop and may be able to skip
    • Can somersault, flipping all the way around forwards or backwards
    • Use a fork and spoon and sometimes a table knife
    • Use the toilet on their own
    • Swing and climb
  • Health

    • Have 5 ounces of grains daily (such as 1 cup of breakfast cereal plus 1 large tortilla)
    • Have 1 ½ cups of vegetables daily (such as 3 medium carrots)
    • Have 1 to 1 ½ cups of fruits daily (such as 1 medium or large apple OR 1 to 1½ cups 100% fruit juice)
    • Have 4 ounces of meat and beans daily (such as 1 small chicken breast plus 1 egg)
    • Have 2 ½ cups of milk daily
    • Have 1 hour of adult-led physical activity
    • Have 1 hour of free play
    • Are not inactive for more than 1 hour at a time, unless sleeping
    • Sleep about 10–13 hours per day
    • Stay on schedule with shots

Act early by talking to a doctor, teacher, or social worker if your child:

  • Act Early

    • Doesn't show a wide range of emotions
    • Shows extreme behavior, such as unusual fear, aggressiveness, shyness, or sadness
    • Is easily distracted, having trouble focusing on an activity for more than 5 minutes
    • Doesn't respond to people or responds without thought or care
    • Can't tell what's real and what's make-believe
    • Can't give first and last name
    • Doesn't talk about daily activities or experiences
    • Doesn't draw pictures
    • Can't brush teeth, wash and dry hands, or get undressed without help

Programs

Find the support your family needs to thrive

Free school breakfast and lunch

SchoolFood

NYC Department of Education

NYC students can enjoy free breakfast and lunch every school day.

Free health care in schools

School-Based Health Centers (SBHC)

NYC Department of Education/NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene

Students can get free health care in their school.

Gifted programs

Gifted & Talented Program (G&T)

NYC Department of Education

G&T programs offer specialized classes for exceptional students.

Events

See what your family can do for free in NYC

Pre-School Storytime

10:30 AM - 11:00 PM
Preschoolers from 3 to 5 years old and their parents or caregivers can enjoy new and classic picture books, action songs, and related activities, and meet other preschoolers in the neighborhood.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum – Pay as You Wish

2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Take your kids to visit the Brooklyn Children's Museum to enjoy fun, educational exhibits. Pay as you wish on Thursday and Sunday afternoons!

Family Storytime

10:30 AM - 11:15 AM
Children ages 2 - 5 and their parent or caregiver are invited to listen to stories, sing, dance, and do finger plays.