Fifth-Grade Subjects, Activities, and Skills

Children drawing pictures with teacher
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The last year of elementary school will be a good time for you and your fifth grader to look ahead and also look back and reflect. By the time your child is ready to make the transition to middle school, they should have a solid grasp of basic academics. If your child isn't reading at a fifth-grade level or doesn't fully understand fifth grade subject matter, for instance, now is the time for an intervention.

Your fifth grader is preparing to take a big leap. Middle school not only brings tougher academic requirements, but also increasing distractions such as surging hormones and socializing with friends.

Since today's kids are more tech-savvy than ever, video chatting with friends, talking on the phone, and texting are things parents need to keep an eye on and limit.

Standard fifth-grade curricula vary by state and district, but there are quite a few general things you can definitely expect.

Fifth Grade Social Skills

At this point in your child's life, puberty has either already begun or it is right around the corner. Your child will be going through some major hormonal changes over the next few years, and their body isn't the only thing that is affected. Your fifth grader will:

  • Be more attuned to what peers are wearing, the music they’re listening to, etc.
  • Spend more time socializing with friends, texting, video chatting, etc.
  • Face more time constraints as schoolwork becomes harder and they have to juggle friends and extracurricular activities.

Reading and Writing

Depending on where your child goes to school, they may be taking language arts instead of individual reading and writing classes. Regardless, your fifth grader will generally:

  • Offer detailed analyses of characters and plots of books.
  • Learn the phases of writing: outline, draft, revise, edit.
  • Read newspapers and magazines and write opinions about news and events.
  • Research and write reports of several pages in length on various topics.
  • Give oral presentations.
  • Plow through reading lists.
  • Continue to increase vocabulary words.
  • Handle more challenging spelling tests.


As a fifth grader, your child is only a year away from the rigors of middle school academia, so you can expect subjects like math to be kicked up a notch. Your fifth grader will:

  • Become familiar with improper fractions and equivalent fractions.
  • Learn more about prime numbers.
  • Become familiar with aspects of data such as mean, median, range, etc.
  • Learn different types of triangles (isosceles, equilateral, etc.).
  • Calculate the perimeter and area of triangles, rectangles, etc.
  • Add, subtract, and multiply fractions.
  • Develop skills at doing math mentally without writing problems down on paper.

Science, Social Studies, and Technology

Many fifth grade classes incorporate more hands-on activities that show the practical application of the ideas and theories they are learning about. These subjects will also help to expand your child's worldview. Your fifth grader will:

  • Learn about early American history, including the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, etc.
  • Understand the different branches of government and how they work.
  • Identify important landmarks around the world.
  • Study how living organisms work, such as photosynthesis and digestion.
  • Learn more about the human body, including the cardiovascular and skeletal systems. Depending on where you send your child to school, this may also cover sex education.
  • Begin basic chemistry and physics.
  • Continue to learn about the solar system and our planet (oceans, weather, landforms, etc.).
  • Learn more about biodiversity, climate change, and the impact humans have had on the environment.
3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Scammacca NK, Roberts G, Vaughn S, Stuebing KK. A Meta-Analysis of Interventions for Struggling Readers in Grades 4-12: 1980-2011. J Learn Disabil. 2015;48(4):369-90. doi:10.1177/0022219413504995

  2. Bavelier D, Green CS, Dye MW. Children, Wired: For Better and For Worse. Neuron. 2010;67(5):692-701. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2010.08.035

  3. Common Core State Standards Initiative. Grade 5 » Introduction.

By Katherine Lee
Katherine Lee is a parenting writer and a former editor at Parenting and Working Mother magazines.