Getting Ready for Fifth Grade

Fifth grade is a big year for kids! Find out what skills, lessons, and challenges to expect.
By Sasha Emmons



Getting Ready for Fifth Grade

It's the race to middle school! Fifth grade is all about prepping for the big transition.

What she’ll be learning:

  • How to see the big picture (Frank Lloyd Wright homes represent a time in history as well as an exercise in geometry.)
  • Critical thinking skills about big themes like conflict (She’s not only memorizing dates and generals but also pondering the global factors that lead to war.)
  • How to write with similes and metaphors, and maybe dialogue
  • Early algebra, operations using decimals and fractions, volume, and graphing 

What you’ll love:

At the beginning of the year, there’s a lot of silence as it sinks in that the teacher will not be giving away the answers. But by spring, your child’s unique way of thinking will reveal itself, and that maturity is a revelation. “Kids are coming into who they are,” says Sharon Wright, a fifth-grade teacher in St. Charles, IL. “You’re getting a preview of the adult ahead.” Friendships align based more on shared interests than on proximity (same class, same block).

Don’t stress over . . .

The know-it-all attitude: Being the big kids on campus makes fifth-graders a tough audience. “Keeping students connected and engaged is hard,” says Wright. And thanks to blossoming BS detectors, “a teacher needs to keep it authentic, really knowing her purpose,” says Wright. Good advice for you, too. Try looking for a coming-of-age book like Where the Red Fern Grows or To Kill a Mockingbird. Relatable characters are what will keep reading going strong.

Hormone havoc: The start of acne, the first menstrual period, and a growing interest in what everyone is wearing, texting, and doing can make this grade a bit of a rough ride. Try letting your kids see you struggle and fail, so they see that it’s normal not to be perfect. Let them know mistakes are the best teachers.

Plus: Read more on fifth-grade skills, lessons, and readiness.

Find out what to expect in:

What to Expect by Grade
Cognitive Skills
Age 10
Age 9
Child Development and Behavior
School Life