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What's happening physically?
Your child continues to grow, but this is a crucial time for gross and fine motor skill development. Dr. McKay says, "If you have not done so already, this is a great time to start training in dance, gymnastics, swimming and soccer — activities that encourage a child's awareness of her body, help improve focus and concentration, and engage her in collaborative relationships with other children."
What's happening neurologically?
"The brain is incredibly plastic, which means that children at this age love to memorize facts, song lyrics, and can readily learn new languages."
A 5-year-old's brain is almost the size of an adult's, but will continue to develop for the next 20 years. "The language centers of the brain are maturing and a child's speech is becoming increasingly like the adults around her," says McKay. This is also a perfect time to start teaching your child a new language or instrument.
"The brain is incredibly plastic, which means that children at this age love to memorize facts, song lyrics, and can readily learn new languages," says McKay. "Learning a second (or even third) language during early childhood improves processing speed and cognitive flexibility — two key aspects of intelligence and creativity."
What's happening socially and emotionally?
At 5, many kids are becoming aware of their individuality and learn the concept of self-confidence. While some are beginning to understand other people's moods and feelings, most are not too interested in relationships, as we understand them. "For those children who are sensitive and intuitive, this can be a difficult time," says McKay.
"Hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and even bullying and victimization can begin to shape social relationships. The good news is that many 5-year-olds are more interested in learning about dinosaurs, insects, and human anatomy than they are about navigating social relationships."
With a little patience, your child's fifth year can be an adventure... for both you and your little one.
More on child development
The benefits of developing early reading skills
How different styles of play encourage child development
Calming foods for hyperactive kids