What Do Kids Learn in 5th Grade?

What your child may learn in a typical fifth-grade classroom

Children (8-9) raising hands in classroom
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By fifth grade, children are pros at navigating the routines and expectations of school. They have spent many years in a classroom, from kindergarten (and perhaps even preschool) on through the grade they're in now. They are on the cusp of adolescence and looking ahead to middle school. Their maturity is showing in how they handle themselves emotionally and in terms of discipline and behavior, and they're handling increasingly challenging work at school as they tackle more difficult academic requirements in the classroom.

Here's a general overview of what your child might learn in school this year.

What's Learned in 5th Grade?

Fifth grade is a year for putting all the academic pieces together. In 5th grade, your child is saying goodbye to elementary school and preparing for middle school. She may have different teachers for each subject for the first time this year and will be expected to take more responsibility for organization and long-term planning. Though curriculum varies from school to school, there are some common skills and concepts to learn in 5th grade.


As your 5th grader is merely a year away from the challenging curriculum of middle school, this is the year that math programs step it up a notch. This year your child will be asked to stretch her brain to come up with solutions to more complicated problems, ones that ask her to use multiplication, division, subtraction and addition all within the same problem.

She's likely to learn the phrase "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally" as a way to remember the order in which to perform operations (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction). Your 5th grader will begin learning some geometry , including the symmetry of shapes, the roles of perpendicular and parallel lines, as well as how to use the formulas to calculate the volume of geometric shapes.

Other skills learned this year include: conversion of fractions, number plotting and the features of data sets.


By now your 5th grader has grasped many of the mechanical skills of reading and should be reading chapter books with relative fluency. This year she will be challenged to read many different genres with a critical and interpretive eye. Expect your child to be doing a lot of independent reading and writing book reports that analyze the characters, plot and setting as they relate to the author's purpose in writing the book.  She will also learn to back up her opinions using examples from the text.


Fifth grade writing instruction comes hand-in-hand with reading in a combined class known as Language Arts. This year students will be writing every day in a number of different ways. Many teachers will have a time for journaling during which students are asked to write for personal expression, be it poetry, autobiography or fiction. A great deal of emphasis is given to the writing process, as students master the art of editing for punctuation, flow and clarity of thought.

This year your child will build a writing portfolio of her best work, a process that allows her to learn to evaluate her own work.


Fifth grade students become hands-on scientists exploring the physical world this year. Areas of study include the solar system, photosynthesis, the digestive system and the chemical properties of elements. In this regard, your child will learn the Scientific Method, measuring the changes to the substances with which her experiments and presenting his findings in a factual manner.

Social Studies

The focus of social studies in fifth is citizenship. Students learn about out nation's history are challenged to analyze what they have learned for the causes, implications and different cultures of the colonies and people who founded them. Your child will learn about the evolution of our government and its branches, as well as spending time learning the geography and unique features of each of the states.

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