6 Year-Olds

6 Year-Old Developmental Milestones

Summarized by Chip Wood’s book “Yardsticks”


  • Good visual tracking from left to right
  • More aware of their fingers as tools
  • Noisy and sloppy; in a hurry
  • Often fall backwards out of chairs
  • Learning to distinguish left from right
  • Because of new teeth, often chew on pencils, fingernails, etc.
  • Tire easily, frequently ill
  • Enjoy being active



  • Want to be first
  • Competitive, enthusiastic
  • Sometimes “poor sports” of dishonest to enable themselves to win
  • Anxious to do well
  • Thrive on encouragement
  • Like surprises and treats
  • Can be bossy or critical of others
  • Easily upset when hurt
  • Care a lot about friends, may have a best friend
  • Less influenced by home than school



  • Enjoy explaining things, sharing about things
  • Use boisterous and enthusiastic language
  • Love jokes and guessing games
  • Complain frequently



  • Learn best through discovery; love asking questions and try new things
  • Better understand spatial and functional relationships
  • Ambitious and motivated to learn, may choose projects that are too hard
  • Enjoy the process more than the product
  • Love to color and paint
  • Engage in more elaborate cooperative and dramatic play than at 5
  • Increasing interest in computers
  • Beginning to understand past and present and also how and why things happen
  • Beginning to be interested in skill and technique for their own sake
  • Like to work, enjoy reading and writing


Vision and Fine Motor

  • Will copy from the board but find it difficult
  • Spacing and staying on the line when writing is difficult
  • Able to track visually from left to right


Gross Motor Ability

  • Comfortable with busy level of noise and activity; often work standing
  • Can produce higher quality products when encouraged to work slowly or when complexity of task is limited


Cognitive Growth

  • Enjoy and learn from games of all sorts; poems, riddles, and songs teach them more effectively than workbooks
  • Artistic explosion!  Love to experiment artistically, should be encouraged to take risks
  • Produce great quantity of work but are unconcerned with quality
  • Social Studies curriculum needs to be connected with the here and now; history is difficult to grasp
  • Enjoy and learn from field trips followed by retelling or recreating learning


Social-Emotional Behavior

  • Use tantrums, teasing, bossing, complaining, and tattling to try out relationships with authority; learn best when adults understand but do not excessively tolerate this behavior
  • Extremely sensitive-respond dramatically to praise and criticism
  • Highly competitive, need to win and be first
  • Ready to try taking on individual and group responsibility



  • Partner reading is important
  • Phonics learning should be taught in small groups or whole class
  • Predictable books should be read, easy chapter books should be slowly introduced
  • Use writing, drawing, clay, painting, drama, or blocks to show feelings about a story
  • Should show some understanding of differences between genres



  • Stories are influenced by drawings
  • Use letter naming and transitional spelling
  • Tend to write about friends, school, possessions, holidays, fantasy, trips



  • Should do mental math and problem solving after mastering basic skills
  • Basic computation with money
  • Should be able to complete basic worksheets with simple computation
  • Experiment with reversing operations
  • Do lots of measuring
  • Work with manipulatives