What to expect in fifth grade

Learn about what to expect for your child in fifth grade.

By Miriam Myers

In your child's classroom

In fifth grade, your child will build on the skills she developed in fourth grade and study many of the same subjects at a higher level.

She will read many types of literature and informational material, think critically about what she reads, and discuss it with the teacher and other students. She will write for many different purposes and learn new writing techniques, including making effective transitions, using dialogue to advance the plot and creating a mood, such as suspense. In math she will work with fractions, decimals, negative numbers and very large numbers (in the billions). She will also focus on multiplying and dividing multi-digit numbers.

Tonya Breland, our teacher consultant, explains: "While preparing your child for fifth grade, keep in mind her growing understanding of more complex issues in society. This is a great time to get involved in community service activities to help foster character development, a sense of giving and responsibility. "

Ramping up reading skills

To help your child be ready for fifth-grade reading, encourage him to read many different types of text this summer. If he enjoyed a novel about baseball, encourage him to read about his favorite team in the sports section of the newspaper or on the Internet. If he enjoyed a nonfiction book about the Revolutionary War, encourage him to try a historical novel set in that time period. The children's librarian at your local library can help you find something to match your child's interests and reading level.

Everyday math

To prepare your child for fifth-grade math, involve her in solving math problems you encounter in real life. When you go to a store together let her pay and have her check that she received the correct change. She can estimate what the grocery store bill or restaurant bill will be. She can measure the distance you'll travel on a family trip or help measure a room when you are hanging a picture or rearranging furniture.

Children pass through a range of social, academic and developmental stages, each at their own pace. Below are rough guidelines of what to look forward to in the year ahead.

Physical and social skills you can expect of your fifth grader:

  • Develop increasing independence
  • Improve problem-solving skills
  • Acquire more advanced listening and responding skills
  • Need for more sleep

Academic skills you can expect of your fifth grader:

  • Enjoy organizing and classifying objects and ideas
  • Be able to read and concentrate for long periods of time
  • Read complex text fluently and with good comprehension
  • Research a topic using a variety of sources and use the features of books (e.g., index, glossary, appendix) to find information
  • Identify the conflict, climax and resolution in a story
  • Write an organized, multi-paragraph composition in sequential order with a central idea
  • Use problem-solving strategies to solve real-world math problems
  • Add and subtract fractions and decimals
  • Identify and describe three-dimensional shapes, and find their volumes and surface areas
  • Use long division to divide large numbers by multi-digit divisors (86,554 / 392)

Learn more about where your child should be at the end of fourth grade.