What To Expect of Your Six-Year-Old

Blog Post created by teachontarioteam on Mar 25, 2015

aboriginal_education_644x362.jpgBrain Development

  • can count to 100
  • likes taking responsibility for simple household chores
  • likes to make simple decisions
  • asks endless "how-what-when-where-why" questions
  • continues to refine concepts of shape, space, time, colour and numbers
  • speech should be completely intelligible and socially useful
  • should have all vowels and the consonants and sounds m,p,b,h,w,k,g,t,d,n,ng,y, f, v, sh, th
  • speech becomes more social, less egocentric
  • may still reverse printed letters, for example D and B
  • enjoys planning and building
  • has longer attention span
  • should be able to tell one a rather connected story about a picture, seeing relationships between objects and happenings
  • starts to understand the difference between intentional and accidental
  • still a tendency to focus attention on one aspect of an object while ignoring others
  • still has a short attention span (about 15 minutes maximum)
  • concepts formed are crude and irreversible


Inside the Brain

  • myelination of corpus callosum of the frontal lobe continues
  • dendritic complexity in the brain increases in order to facilitate the formation of memory
  • electrical activity of the brain gains coherence allowing the brain to better integrate the past with the present
  • memory strategies begin to develop
  • improved connections between temporal and parietal lobes of the brain lead to dramatic reading and vocabulary development
  • dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex of the brain are nearly the same as an adult, allowing improved focus and concentration


Emotional Development

  • needs to be right about everything
  • feels sensitive to criticism
  • may argue or lie to avoid blame
  • may have unpredictable mood swings
  • sees things as black and white, right or wrong, very little middle ground
  • generally enjoys caring for, and playing with, younger children
  • may become upset when behaviour or schoolwork is ignored
  • has a problem admitting a mistake
  • feels quite guilty about making mistakes
  • begins to understand differences of opinion


Social Development

  • being friends becomes increasingly important
  • shows interest in rules and rituals
  • wants to play more with similar friends e.g. girls with girls, boys with boys
  • may have ‘best friend’ or ‘enemy’
  • shows strong desire to perform well
  • begins to see things from another’s perspective but is still very self-centered
  • values independence
  • evaluates self and friends
  • begins to impose rules on play activities
  • cooperates with other children with some difficulty
  • has difficulty considering the feelings of others
  • likes dramatic play


Physical Development

  • loves active play but may tire easily
  • can be reckless (does not understand dangers completely)
  • still improving basic motor skills
  • skilled at using scissors and small tools
  • shows development of permanent teeth
  • enjoys testing muscular strength and skills
  • has a good sense of balance
  • can tie shoe laces
  • enjoys copying designs, shapes, letters, and numbers
  • may have gawky, awkward appearance
  • still not well coordinated
  • begins to learn some specific sports skills like batting a ball
  • dawdles much of the time
  • is fascinated with the subject of teeth
  • permanent teeth erupting, both front teeth or molars
  • may become a more finicky eater
  • uses crayons and paints with some skill, but has difficulty writing and cutting
  • may resist baths


As every child is unique and there is a wide range of what’s ‘normal’ at every age, it’s important to remember these lists are guidelines only. If you are concerned about your child’s development, see your doctor.

Sources: AboutKidsHealth, The Hospital for Sick Children, Health A-Z, Developmental Stages, Ontario Ministry of Child and Youth Services, Ontario Early Years Centres: A Place for Parents and Their Children,The Developing Brain: Birth to Age Eight, by Marilee Sprenger, Your Child’s Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning from Birth to Adolescence, by Jane M. Healy, Ages and Stages, by Lesia Oesterreich, M.S.,extension human development specialist, Human Development and Family Studies, Iowa State University and “Learning from mistakes only happens after age 12, study suggests,” from Science Daily, Sept. 27, 2008.