11 Big-Kid Milestones
When your kid will be ready to ride a bike, stay home alone and more
by Deborah Skolnik
When you hear the word "milestones," chances are you think of all the cute little triumphs you jotted down in your child's baby book: his first smile, his first wave, his first...everything. That journal may have been misplaced long ago (have you checked under the Wii?), but these accomplishments are more than just a memory. In fact, your kid's still making major strides.
Some of these quantum leaps will make your life as a parent a lot easier -- others will only create a whole new set of challenges. But no matter what, your job's about to get more interesting. We're giving you a heads-up so you'll be ready!
5 TO 6 YEARS OLD
Playing group sports
Your child's not just getting stronger and more coordinated, he's also becoming more skillful at interacting within a group. "He's at a point where he can communicate well and follow directions most of the time," says Michael Wasserman, M.D., a pediatrician at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans. Plus, he's got a smidgen of patience and can take turns (usually). In other words, bring on the little soccer cleats!
As long as the parents on the sidelines don't behave like first-graders themselves and pressure the kids to win, group games are a great way to learn good sportsmanship, cooperation, and perseverance while getting some exercise. Just don't expect to see too much teamwork at first: "My five-year-old daughter, Eva, started T-ball this year, but I don't think the kids actually understood that they should work together to get more runs," says Erika Hanson of Fargo, ND. "Still, it's wonderful to watch a new, more organized level of playing together."