Developmental milestones for kindergartners

By Amanda Morin

At a glance

  • Kids grow and develop quickly as they head into kindergarten.

  • They don’t all develop at the same rate.

  • Some kids need extra help to catch up to their peers.

This is a big year of growth. Most 5-year-olds are either gearing up for or starting kindergarten, where they face new expectations. You may wonder how your child’s skills compare to those of other kids this age. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a list of milestones, which it updated with many changes in 2022. The agency moved some of the milestones to different age ranges, which some experts question.

The CDC milestones below can help you know what to expect. If your child isn’t meeting many of these milestones, it could point to possible developmental delays. Talk to your child’s doctor or other health care provider to start getting answers.

You can also learn more about: 

Social/emotional milestones

  • Follows rules or takes turns when playing games with other children
  • Sings, dances, or acts for you
  • Does simple chores at home, like matching socks or clearing the table after eating 

Language/communication milestones

  • Tells a story with at least two events: “It started to rain, and the dog ran back home.”
  • Answers simple questions about a book or story after you read or tell it to them
  • Keeps a conversation going with more than three back-and-forth exchanges
  • Uses or recognizes simple rhymes (bat-cat, ball-tall)

Cognitive milestones (learning, thinking, problem-solving)

  • Counts to 10
  • Names some numerals between 1 and 5 when you point to them
  • Uses words about time, like yesterday, tomorrow, morning, or night
  • Pays attention for 5 to 10 minutes during activities, like during story time (screen time doesn’t count).
  • Writes some of the letters in their name
  • Names some letters when you point to them

Movement/physical development milestones

  • Buttons some buttons
  • Hops on one foot

If your child isn’t meeting milestones, don’t panic. But do talk to your child’s doctor or other health care provider about what can help your child. It could be a good idea to get an evaluation for special education from your local school.

Key takeaways

  • By the end of kindergarten, kids can typically use language to tell stories and express feelings.

  • It’s not unusual for kindergartners to have tantrums or get upset when things don’t go their way.

  • Parents and caregivers should share concerns about development with their child’s doctor and teacher.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.