Year 5 Survival Guide

Wondering what you can do to help your child excel in Year 5? Read our Year 5 Survival Guide to find more!
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Feeling a little lost on how to prepare your child for Year 5? Well, our Year 5 survival guide will help you get on the right track.

Here, we discuss common issues faced by students, key concerns from parents, and delve into the Selective High School Placement Test and Year 5 syllabus outcomes!

Year 5 Survival Guide

In this Year 5 survival guide, we will discuss:


An overview of Year 5

As a stepping stone into the final stage of primary school, Year 5 can understandably be a daunting year for many.

With the Selective School test approaching, as well as being labelled ‘seniors’ of the school, students often experience greater responsibility and pressure.

But don’t worry!

By reading this Year 5 survival guide, you’ll know exactly what kind of issues your child may face, and the expectations placed upon them – so you can help your child flourish in school!


Year 5 student playing hopscotch


What is expected of students in Year 5?

In Year 5, students should be prepared to:

  • Evaluate and make informed decisions
  • Become an independent learner
  • Work collaboratively and productively
  • Be an active listener and effective communicator
  • Ask challenging questions to expand their understanding


Common issues among Year 5 students

Issue 1: Students struggle to maintain focus when completing tasks

In Year 5, students may be required to use their devices for research or completing homework.

However, this can also be the source of your child’s distraction, as they become engulfed by games or social media.

As such, many students struggle to maintain their focus and productivity across extended periods. And this can actually hinder your child’s study in the long run.

That’s why it is so important to schedule breaks, so your child does not feel tempted to game or get distracted when they are supposed to be studying.



Issue 2: Students have a fear of making mistakes

As academic expectations begin to form, students often find themselves afraid of making mistakes and dealing with failure.

And this is completely understandable!

As expectations to perform well in school and important exams arise, students may experience immense pressure and a heightened fear of failure.

However, it is important to reinforce to your child that making mistakes is fine.

Not understanding a concept immediately or performing poorly on one test is not going to affect their entire life. By nurturing a healthy and positive mindset at a young age, your child will feel less afraid of dealing with failure.

Instead, they will feel more inclined to bounce back from any mistakes.


Issue 3: Students lose sight of their goals and motivation to study

For students who intend to sit the Selective test, Year 5 may feel like a long, never-ending marathon of study and preparation. And while your child may be striving for exceptional results, it can become very easy to lose sight of their own goals when required to study for an extended period.

At times, you may find your child becoming easily distracted, losing motivation to study, or unsure of what they are doing.

Naturally, your child will find talking to friends or playing games more fun than studying. So, let your child take breaks whenever needed. Remind them of their goals to motivate them.

But, don’t stress your child out by forcing them to study every hour.

Increasing motivation and productivity by promoting a balanced schedule is essential to excel in school.

Year 5 student doing homework


What is Stage 3?

As the final and one of the most important stages of primary school, Stage 3 consists of Year 5 and Year 6.

In this stage, academic and social expectations begin to form as opportunities for leadership and extra-curriculars arise, such as Prefects and Debating Team.

Some students will also spend a significant amount of their spare time in Year 5 preparing for the upcoming Selective test in Year 6.

That is why focusing on studies is crucial for your child to maximise their results!


So, what can parents do to help?

These final years of primary school can exert pressure upon students. So, your role as a parent is to always support your child.

Whether they’re excelling in school, or struggling just a little, knowing that you have their back can help relieve their worries and concerns.

To support your child, try to:

  • Check up on your child and ask them how they are going
  • Encourage growth and resilience by bouncing back from mistakes
  • Create a distraction-free environment for your child to focus
  • Avoid placing excess pressure or stress upon your child to succeed.


Selective High School Placement Test

The table below details the different components of the Selective test, including the allocation of time and questions, and a description of each section.

SectionTime (minutes)QuestionsDescription
  • Assesses reading and comprehension skills
  • Involves interpreting texts of different genres (e.g. fiction, non-fiction, poetry, magazine articles and reports)
Mathematical reasoning4035
  • Assesses numeracy skills and mental maths
  • Involves interpreting patterns and word problems with real life applications
Thinking skills4040
  • Likened to the previous General Ability test because it tests the student’s critical thinking and logical reasoning
  • Assesses students’ use of language, creative ideas and writing structures
  • Typically, students will be expected to write an imaginative/creative response to a stimulus within 30 minutes



Subjects studied in Year 5 at school

In Year 5, students will study the following subjects at school:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science and Technology
  • Human Society and its Environment (HSIE) – including History and Geography
  • Personal Development Health and Physical Education (PDHPE)
  • Creative Arts
  • Languages (dependent on school)

In Year 5, students will continue studying the same subjects as they have in Stage 2.

However, your child’s knowledge of key outcomes will expand, as they develop fluency when responding to increasingly complex problems.

The content and syllabus dot points studied in Year 5 will also be more difficult and challenging than Stage 2.


What to expect for Year 5 English

In Year 5, students are expected to develop a wide range of skills, from analysing texts to developing unique ideas.

For example, this may require students to:

  • Develop effective listening and communication skills
  • Read widely and interpret complex texts
  • Express clear and coherent ideas
  • Deliver engaging, compelling presentations
  • Write fluently with correct spelling, grammar and punctuation
  • Evaluate texts to identify important concepts


Take a look at the NESA Stage 3 Syllabus to find out more!

English work annotated with red pen



What to expect for Year 5 Maths


Examples of topics in Year 5 Maths include:

  • Measuring probability with fractions, decimals and percentages
  • Number and geometric patterns
  • Prime, composite, square and triangular number properties
  • Quadrants on Cartesian plane
  • Length, area, mass, volume, capacity


If you want to find out more about what topics your child should have covered in Stage 2, check out our ‘Year 4 Survival Guide’ here.


Key concerns parents have about Year 5

Concern 1: Parents don’t know how to help their child prepare for the Selective High School Placement Test

The Selective High School Placement Test is a rather significant event in your child’s schooling. It potentially determines which high school they will be attending and it’s their chance to demonstrate their academic capabilities.

It’s understandable that parents would be anxious about helping their child prepare for it, especially since the test is so ambiguously defined with phrases like “Thinking Skills”. To put it simply, the key thing that will help your child excel in the test is a solid foundation and practise under timed conditions.

We’ve put together a Selective Schools Guide to break down what exactly a Selective School is, how you can choose the right Selective School, the Selective School application process, what the Test involves, and how you can help your child prepare for each section.



Concern 2: Parents don’t feel confident enough to teach their child.

Let’s be real here. We weren’t all Maths and English geniuses in school, and even if we were, time certainly hasn’t been on our side for retaining that knowledge. To add to that, the curriculum has changed significantly over the years, and who has the time to keep up with all the new strategies and terminology?

Not feeling confident in Year 5 subjects is nothing to be embarrassed about — you’ve got better things to know! As a parent, you will need to accept that sooner or later, your child will out-learn you, whether that’s in Year 5 Maths or Year 12 Biology. And that’s a sign of good parenting.

You can confidently know that you haven’t restricted your child, but given them the opportunity to grow above and beyond what you know.

What you can do though, is to inspire your child to perceive their education in a positive light, and to help them establish healthy independent studying habits.

Healthy study habits involve:

  • Studying consistently on a weekly basis
  • Studying, playing and sleeping at appropriate hours
  • Utilising other resources like library books
  • Having the capacity to sit down and study for up to an hour
  • Being able to make mistakes and learn from them.


Concern 3: Parents don’t know if they can trust their child to study on a technological device.

Technology can be a powerful tool for your child’s learning. It can make studying fun, interactive and more engaging. But at the same time, how do you know that they are actually studying on their device, not just playing games?

There are 3 key strategies to address this concern:

  1. Communication
  2. Monitoring
  3. Regulation

Child and parent high-fiving



1. Communication

The first strategy is to communicate your thoughts to your child. Let them know that having a device is a privilege that you are giving to them because you trust them. Establish what they are allowed to do on their device (whether it’s studying, playing games and/or chatting with friends) and when they should be using it.

It’s important though, not to treat playing games on their device as some coveted infrequent activity, as this may encourage your child to want to play games more. Instead, acknowledge that there is a time and place for games, but this needs to be transparent and in moderation.

Rather than waiting for your child to beg you for the iPad to play their favourite game, beat them to it and offer them iPad time throughout the week. You could even give them the option whether to play on their device, play in the park or finish reading that book they were enjoying, to start them getting into the habit of turning down opportunities to play on their device.


2. Monitoring

Software developments have made it easier than ever to monitor your child’s activity on their device. The iPad, for instance, has a Screen Time function that lets you see how long your child has spent on each App over the past 24 hours and the past week. You can even set up limits for Apps.

Know when to pick your battles though. If you can see that your child goes and plays a sneaky 30 minutes of Minecraft every couple of weeks, but is still studying well with their device, you might want to hold off any confrontation if the behaviour doesn’t seem to be worsening. After all, we all have our moments of weakness and it would be fair to cut our children some slack too.


3. Regulation

While monitoring technology gives parents all the power to control device usage, you’d want to gradually help your child establish self-regulatory behaviours and not simply restrict them with strict rules. Achieving that is a challenge for all parents, but it’s a continuous process that requires a lot of open communication and trust from both sides.

More effective regulating strategies would involve deciding, with input from your child, when and how they will use their device on a regular basis, and expectations that you both have. For instance, you may have the expectation that they will not use their device during meal times, and they may have the expectation that you won’t read through their messages with friends.

It’s important to agree on these things to avoid unnecessary complications in the future.



How to achieve a smooth transition into Year 5

All in all, these are the most important strategies that will help you guide your child in Year 5:


Strategy 1: Talk to each other

Your little one is growing, not just tall, but in maturity. So, treat them like it. Let them know if something is concerning you, hear what they have to say and come up with a solution that will work for all parties. You and your child are a team, and communication is paramount in any teamwork.


Strategy 2: Pick your battles

As a parent, you will know when to lay down the law, and when to let things slide. Controlling every aspect of your child’s schooling is impossible and stressful, so be firm with the things that are non-negotiable and give them a bit of freedom for the things that don’t matter as much.


Strategy 3: Encourage them to read and write

Reading and writing are skills that they will need in schooling, NAPLAN, the Selective Test and into their professional career.

A common way to get your child reading is to take them to the library and let them pick whatever books interest them. Even if they aren’t initially enthusiastic, they will slowly develop their interests and get into the habit of reading. For more strategies on how to encourage reading, read this article.


Strategy 4: Make sure that your child does practice tests under timed exam conditions in preparation for their exams

Your child can be academically gifted, but unless they have practice doing exams, they won’t be able to perform any near their full ability.

If you truly want to help your child reach their potential, get them to attempt practice papers of the Selective Test and NAPLAN under timed and closed book conditions. This way, they will be prepared for the time pressures and nerves that could otherwise harm their exam performance.


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