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4 to 5 Years of Age

Kindergarten is only a year away; thus, this year is one of transition. Gone is babyhood, but there still exists a child needing plenty of love and affection.

During this year, as your child prepares for kindergarten and the responsibilities of "real school," help her by making sure basic skills are in place. Show her how letters, words and numbers are connected. Your child may begin to show signs of wanting to help with chores or doing "homework." Give her opportunities to do both with small jobs that help her learn responsibility as well as intellectual skills. Some examples might be to put the spoons in the sink, bring you three napkins for the table, help sort clothes by color and type, etc.

Although your child may act like a "small adult," she is not. She does not have the experience of an adult. If your child does something incorrectly, it does no good to become angry with her. She has no idea what you are talking about. Keep in mind you are your child's best teacher.

Outdoor play is important for your child at this age. Additionally, it is a wonderful time to practice running, jumping, throwing and balancing. It is good to play with others so that she can continue to develop her social skills.

Physical Development

Characteristic 5 Year Milestones:

  • Skips, gallops, tumbles and jumps rope
  • May want to ride a bicycle with training wheels
  • Right- or left-hand dominance is established
  • Cuts on a line with scissors
  • Can copy simple shapes and designs
  • Likes to take things apart and put back together
  • Uses fork, knife and spoon appropriately
  • Requires approximately 1,700 calories a day and sleeps 10-11 hours a night
  • May begin to lose baby teeth

To stimulate development you can:

  • Play a game of follow the leader with hopping, skipping, jumping and galloping.
  • Play other games such as Hokey Pokey, Looby Loo and Simon Says to teach right and left concepts.
  • Give your child a newspaper to cut out coupons or ads, so he learns to cut along the lines.
  • Provide paper and crayons so your child can copy or make designs and shapes, and write name.
  • Save old clocks, flashlights, etc. that have parts that can be removed and put back together. Be certain the item will cause no harm to the child.
  • Supply meals and snacks that provide appropriate nutrition to your child. Include vegetables and fruits and limit sweet treats and fast foods.
  • Establish a regular bedtime. Your child may need 10 or more hours of sleep. Make bedtime a pleasant experience by reading to him or telling him a story.

Intellectual and Language Development

Characteristic 5 Year Milestones:

  • Understands approximately 13,000 words
  • Able to memorize address and phone number
  • Knows books are read from left to right and that stories have a beginning, middle and end
  • Likes to retell stories and make up his own
  • Can sort objects by size: little - big, and can use comparative terms such as big, bigger, biggest
  • Understands concepts such as above - below, before - after, inside - outside, behind - in front of; and time concepts: yesterday, today and tomorrow
  • Can draw pictures that represent people, animals and objects and can copy letters or numbers
  • Can count up to 10 objects
  • Can concentrate on a project or activity and follow a series of instructions

To stimulate development, you can:

  • Read to your child and dramatize the story.
  • Ask "what if" questions. "What if Red Riding Hood's father was with her in the woods?"
  • Have your child supply a different ending to a familiar story or create his own story.
  • Give your child opportunities to carry out series of instructions: "Put away your toys, wash your hands, and come to the table for dinner."
  • Practice situations where your child may become separated from you in a store - what should she do and say. Make certain your child knows his name, parent's name, address and phone number.

Social/Emotional Development

Characteristic 5 year Milestones:

  • Invents games with simple rules and organizes other children and toys for pretend play
  • Is able to share and take turns but may not always want to
  • May exclude other children in play wanting to play with best friends only, and is bossy
  • Uses profanity or potty talk to gain attention
  • Expresses his feelings of anger, frustration and jealousy physically. May be sensitive to other children's feelings of anger, sadness and joy
  • Beginning to have a sense of right and wrong and is learning socially acceptable behavior

To stimulate development, you can:

  • Provide opportunities for your child to be in an unfamiliar setting playing with new children.
  • Help her to understand the need to respect other children by politely asking for a toy, thanking a child who offers her a toy, and apologizing when she has hurt someone's feelings.
  • Help her understand her angry, frustrated or sad feelings. Say "I know you are angry because you couldn't play outdoors, but ..."
  • Be a good example for using appropriate language, and model socially acceptable behavior. Avoid shouting, anger and violence in your home as well as violence on television, games and movies.
  • Praise your child for good behavior, perhaps saying, "I like the way you picked up your toys."

Appropriate Materials

5-Year Old

  • Cars, trucks, child-size tools, and cardboard boxes
  • Dolls, doll house, puppets, dress-up clothes
  • Scissors, crayons, paints, washable markers, pencils, paper, paste or glue, and play dough
  • Old items such as clocks or flashlights that can be taken apart and put back together
  • Story books with colorful pictures
  • Magazines and catalogs for cutting pictures
  • Card games, board games, and puzzles with 12 - 15 pieces.
  • Building blocks
  • Magnetic letters and wood puzzles
  • Tapes or CDs with songs and stories
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