What Are the Developmental Milestones for a 6-Year-Old?

developmental milestones for a 6-year-old
Here’s everything you need to know about your 6-year-old’s developmental milestones

If you are a parent, you can’t help but wonder if your child is growing at the right pace. Although each child develops differently, most will reach common milestones at certain ages unless born prematurely.

Understanding where your 6-year-old is in terms of developmental milestones can help you guide your child and make sure they reach their full potential.

Social development milestones

  • Plays cooperatively with 2-3 children for 20 minutes or more
  • Apologizes for actions they didn’t intend
  • Listens while others are speaking
  • Pays attention and follows instructions in a group
  • Helps others
  • Explains rules of a game to others
  • Engages in better social problem-solving
  • Starts understanding puns and jokes

Cognitive development milestones

  • Copies shapes when drawing (circle, square, triangle)
  • Solves simple addition and subtraction problems
  • Knows numbers beyond 50
  • Learns more complicated games and play by the rules most of the time
  • Knows right from left on their own body
  • Can distinguish between fantasy and reality
  • Shows an understanding of right and wrong
  • Demonstrates a more realistic understanding of space and distance
  • Demonstrates a more realistic sense of their strength and weaknesses

Emotional development milestones

  • Better able to control emotions in most situations
  • Shows empathy when made aware of another’s feelings
  • Can wait their turn or wait to have their needs met
  • Can complete most tasks with a few reminders

Language development milestones

  • Understands words about time and order (morning, afternoon, yesterday, next, last)
  • May correctly say almost all sounds in words
  • Identifies sounds at the beginning of some words
  • Recognizes some familiar written words (their own name, some store signs)
  • Recognizes short, high-frequency words in text (the, in, on, is)
  • Talks about their experiences and asks about yours
  • Speaks clearly enough to be understood by everyone
  • Has a vocabulary of about 10,000 words

Gross motor development milestones

  • Skips across a room
  • Walks on a beam without falling
  • Hops on one foot for about 10 feet
  • Runs lightly on toes
  • Jumps rope
  • Rides a bicycle with or without training wheels

Fine motor development milestones

  • Catches a small ball
  • Cuts out simple shapes following an outline
  • Ties shoelaces
  • Completes bathroom routines without help
  • Prints words and numerals
  • Colors within lines
  • Has an adult grasp of how to use a pencil
  • Uses glue appropriately

Behavioral development milestones

  • Enjoys the company of friends and is involved in conversations
  • Takes an interest in clothing and dressing up
  • Has friends and likes playing around in the park rather than being alone
  • Behaves cheerfully more often than showing anger or irritation


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Making sure your 6-year-old is getting the right nutrition

As children become more active, they require more calories to grow. Protein becomes especially important for building muscle mass, but fruits, vegetables and whole grains are also essential.

This is the best time to get them used to eating healthy. Avoid adding artificial sweeteners to their foods. When packing lunches, always include a portable fresh fruit (such as a banana, a peeled or sectioned orange or apple slices) and vegetables (such as sugar snap peas, carrot sticks or zucchini strips).

Keeping your growing 6-year-old safe

Most 6-year-olds are adventurers, exploring the world around them and their own limits. Be prepared for scrapes and bruises, since accidents happen. By the age of 6, your child should have a good understanding of safety guidelines, including rules for:

  • Riding a bicycle
  • Crossing the street
  • Playing on a playground and in a swimming pool

However, your 6-year-old is too young to: 

  • Cook on a stove unsupervised
  • Be left alone with a baby 
  • Spend time alone in the house
  • Walk home from school by themselves
WebMD. You’re Child at 6: Milestones. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/child-at-6-milestones#1

The Center for Parenting Education. Child Development by Age. https://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/child-development/child-development-by-age/