Important Cognitive Skills Fifth Graders Need to Excel in Class

Deductive reasoning and abstract thinking make this list

fifth grade girl at chalkboard
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Fifth grade is a tough year for many kids, but acquiring important cognitive skills can help them succeed. Fifth graders may have to deal with bullying or be challenged academically more than they have at any other time in their elementary school career. Developing a number of cognitive skills help fifth graders to navigate this new territory, including the abilities to use deductive reasoning and to think more abstractly.

Forming Logical Arguments

In fifth grade, children gain poise, become more alert and clear-minded, giving them the ability to argue more logically. Your fifth grader may only be developing a portion of this cognitive skill at this time, as poise is hard to come by, especially by young girls beginning to enter puberty. Some children, on the other hand, are just coming out of their shells and beginning to be able to hold their own with peers and teachers. This poise makes them more able to be a productive member of the classroom community and provides more confidence in their academic abilities.

At the same time, being able to look at an issue and argue it more logically is a cognitive skill your child will need for writing this year. She will be expected to write a number of different types of pieces, using the four most common types of writing. For the first time, she may find it necessary to write a persuasive piece, in which she takes a position and logically supports her opinion.


Examining Multiple Viewpoints

Fifth graders are capable of looking at multiple viewpoints and outcomes before starting a problem.
This skill allows them to develop a more global perspective and is important in a number of ways. It’s helpful in maintaining relationships with peers. If your child is able to see other perspectives, he’s more likely to be able to engage in conflict resolution.

It can also help him understand the reasons behind some of the school rules he doesn’t like, making it less likely for him to act impulsively.

In the classroom, this cognitive skill develops just about the time that assignments such as science fair projects are gaining importance. Being able to come up with viable (as well as non-viable) hypotheses sets the stage for your child to be able to follow the scientific method as he completes his project.

Develops Curiosity

In fifth grade, children begin to show curiosity and develop their own interests. They may like collecting things at this age. Curiosity is one of the most important characteristics that a student brings to the table when it comes to learning. Without curiosity, there’s little drive to discover why things happen (science), what has happened (history), what will happen (social studies) and what could happen in a different type of world (reading).

Developing an interest in a specific topic can be used as a jumping-off point for research.

Many times a student’s interest in dinosaurs, for instance, can lead to an interest in climate and geological formations. Likewise, a collection of items can be a great way to interest students in systems of classification, learning about bartering and many other academic goals of a fifth-grade curriculum.

Exhibits Abstract Thinking

Fifth graders are capable of abstract thinking. The ability to think beyond the concrete is an important skill as math lessons start to go beyond simple addition, subtraction and multiplication. Until now, your child may have only been dealing with concepts that he could visually recreate with manipulatives. Now he’ll start learning things like the forgiving method of long division and other more complicated math processes that require him to rely more on mental math skills than pencil and paper.

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