Typical 5 Year Old?

Updated on January 01, 2012
L.W. asks from Bolingbrook, IL
12 answers

Hi All,
My son will be 5 in a couple of weeks. He goes to a Montessori school and has been for the last two years. As of late we have had numerous conversations with the teachers about him not paying attention, occasionally writing his teen numbers backwards (so for 13 he'll write 31), acting like he doesn't know the sounds of the alphabet. My question here is, what is typical for a 5 year old? He knows the alphabet, he knows the sounds that each letter makes, he can count to 20, he speaks very clearly, he's learning his continents...I don't want to put pressure on him given that he's so young. I'm just not sure if the teachers at the school have too high expectations or if he should be hitting these accomplishments at this age?
Thank you for your help!

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Thank you all so much for your wonderful responses!! This is very helpful...Happy New Year to all!

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answers from San Francisco on

I think all those things are typical of 5 year olds, especially boys. I think his teachers should stop making such a big deal of these things at such an early age, and just continue to teach him. It's only been his first semester in kindergarten for Pete's sake.

I hope no one is stressing him out over this stuff. If he's still continuing these behaviors in 2nd grade, then maybe you have something to worry about. IMO kindergarten should be fun.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Rochester on

My six year old is in advanced 2nd grade math (starting multiplication) and she still occasionally will write her teens backwards, though she self corrects. It's because you here the sound for the ones place first..."THIR-teen" and they naturally want to write it first. Once he starts base-10 math, where they learn place value and why what number goes where, it will be much simpler. I think he sounds fine!!

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answers from Phoenix on

He is perfectly normal. Is the teacher pointing out the obvious or is she concerned? Unless there is a major developmental problem which would be evident before now, learning and attention span can vary until the age of 10 or so. Boys especially just want to run and play instead of sitting still and writing boring numbers. =D Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Excellent questions! I wonder about your topics and about a dozen others as I see my daughter work on her school work in K. I do have her read to me with a "My First I Can Read Book," in this case the Mittens series. On her own accord, she counted during a long drive in the car during Winter Break, which was an ideal time to do it. But I'm not getting anxious about it.

I have noticed, however, that she does better at these tasks when at home when she is able to move around. I do not know whether the students are allowed to move and read or do math while at school.



answers from Chicago on

sounds like me and I actually got through college!!
Still reversing those numbers.
He sounds very fine and wonderful and normal.



answers from Las Vegas on

Sounds normal to me. I have a 6 year old and that is where she was a year before kindergarten. She didn't know continents, we worked on states. At P/T conference her teacher let us know our daughter didn't know how to read, which she was correct. So I got busy and taught her to read. Now they are working on math and my daughter came home and said Johnny can't add 2+2, it is 4! So she can add better than she can read...we worked on adding buttons all the time before school. Now she can do both! They catch up and find their best subjects. Although I didn't share this with the teacher, my thoughts are girls are traditionally better at reading and english and boys are better at science and math. So we worked on math and I figured she would catch up on the reading, in which she did.

He is fine. I think he is doing what most kids are doing at this age. Of course their are always margins, but he sounds just fine.



answers from Honolulu on

Even older kids... will write backwards, per letters and numbers.
So, your son is not unusual.
He is only 5.

My son is 5. He is in Kindergarten. Public school.
He knows his letters and numbers and the sounds of the alphabet and does sight words and reading per his ability, and knows writing and counting past 200, and they have foreign language classes/social studies/science/computer lab class, etc.
But with writing, of course at this age, penmanship is not all neat and perfect and like an older child.
Normal. Per this age. And per his Teacher as well.

As far as attention... kids this age are young. And I highly doubt, your son is the ONLY one, that flits around or sometimes does not pay attention.
Or, sometimes they are bored. Hence their mind wanders.
Kids this age, are not 100% on point with attention. So keep that in mind.

Perhaps, ASK your son, "why" he acts like he doesn't know the sounds of the alphabet (because you said you know he does know it). So, in a casual manner, just ask him why, he makes like he does not know it?????
See what he says.

Each school and per their curriculum, they have benchmarks or levels of skills which each grade/age, needs to learn and master.
And per these benchmarks, the Teacher/school will know which kids are meeting those 'requirements' or not.

What is the school's... expectation per his age/grade and their curriculum????
And, what is the Teacher doing, to help your son?
Because, in each class/grade, there are kids who are of ALL varied levels of ability or competence.

And sometimes, something as simple as the child being tired... or hungry, affects their attention spans. Especially with young children like this.



answers from Seattle on

Sounds pretty normal.

I'd be concerned, however, if the teachers WEREN'T letting you know he was doing these things.

BTW... part of "normal" is when they already KNOW how to do something, pretending they don't or giving the wrong answer either on purpose, or because they don't feel it's worth their time to answer. Like you said,... he's "acting" like he doesn't know the sounds. Which sounds like he's bored / aka ready for higher level works. If he's still doing the same works he did at age 3 (in the 3-6 group) instead of progressing onward (for whatever reason... one example being: my son was notorious for picking easy works so he could chat with friends rather than do the harder works) then a lot of careless mistakes will happen. Which is the OPPOSITE of having too high an expectation. Know what I mean?



answers from Albuquerque on

That sounds pretty normal to me. My 4.5 year old girls are at about the same stage. They know all of the sounds of the alphabet and can count to a hundred, but still write individual numbers backwards some of the time (even just a regular 5 sometimes). If he's going to continue in private Montessori school you might want to work with him at home so he doesn't have stress at school about paying attention, but if he's headed to public school, I probably wouldn't worry as he'll be ahead of many other kids his age. Montessori is very academic and rigorous about attention span.



answers from Chicago on

is he doing this for attention? Perhaps he is just bored of being asked to do it and rebels?
Overall, the 5 yr olds at my daycare forget to some degree occasionally. Like every now and then the info is just gone. But by 5 the skills are pretty consistent in most kids.
As far as the expectations, they sound on target. If you want to check the goals for state wide what a kindergarten is expected you can google IL State learning benchmarks kindergarten



answers from Pittsburgh on

Sounds normal. My son is in a Montessori kindergarten (he just turned 6). His teacher says it is normal for them to reverse numbers and letters until they are 7.



answers from San Francisco on

Sounds perfectly normal to me. If he knows the sounds each letter makes, challenge him by teaching him to sound out words. Sounds like he's ready.

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