Your 6-Year-Old Child's Cognitive Development

First grade student writing during a lesson
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The period of 6-year-old child development is characterized by an explosion of learning as children enter school. Most will enter first grade but some will be starting kindergarten. They will enter a world of story time, sharing, hands-on activities, crafts, and more. They will begin their journey into books and develop phonemic awareness and learn skills such as decoding words.

Six-year-old children are continuing to develop longer attention spans and will be able to handle more complicated projects and tasks at school and at home. The ability to have complex thoughts really starts to develop at this age, and six-year-olds’ curiosity about the world around them will begin to increase exponentially.

Reading and Writing

Reading will begin to really take off at this age. Many 6-year-olds will begin or continue to develop independent reading and may begin to enjoy writing stories, especially about themselves. (Six-year-olds may be able to write a short paragraph about what they did over summer vacation or a weekend, for instance.)

The number of sight words they know will grow and they will be able to break down words into sounds. Their vocabulary will also increase, and they will be able to spell a greater number of words (though many words will still be invented spelling, such as "floo" for "flew"). Six-year-olds will also learn how to use punctuation and capitalization of letters in sentences.

They may enjoy reading simple chapter books such as Frog and Toad and will be able to proudly re-tell basic plot lines and discuss elements of what they liked or didn’t like about the story or characters.

Numbers and Math

Six-year-olds will be able to count much higher than they did as mere kindergarteners. They will increasingly be playing with numbers and learning different strategies to solve addition and subtraction problems. Six-year-old children may learn how to add up to 10 in their head and may enjoy working with puzzles such as building a fact family house.

Children this age will also begin to understand concepts such as "even" and "odd" numbers. Six-year-olds will learn how to identify shapes and work with them to combine them to create new shapes. They may learn how to identify simple patterns and learn how to measure height, weight, and other sums. They may be taught how to read time on an analog clock, and if they haven’t done so already, learn how to identify coins and count money.

Six-year-old children may benefit from playing games that require thinking about numbers, shapes, and problem-solving skills such as math games online or educational board games such as Pentago and Qwirkle.


If they haven’t already mastered concepts of time, 6-year-olds will work on learning about hours and minutes and the days of the week. They may increase and expand their knowledge about the world around them, learning about weather patterns, their neighborhood, and other states and countries.

Six-year-olds will increasingly understand the difference between "real" and "imaginary." They may become more interested in doing "real" things such as taking real photographs with a camera or making real food instead of pretending to cook in a play kitchen.