Preschoolers develop at an astonishing rate! Here's some advice on what to expect as a parent and what you can do to help your preschooler grow socially, intellectually, and emotionally.
Children 3 to 5 Years Old
What to Expect
Between their third and fourth birthdays, children:
- Start to play with other children, instead of next to them;
- Are more likely to take turns and share and begin to understand that other people have feelings and rights;
- Are increasingly self-reliant and probably can dress with little help;
- May develop fears ("Mommy, there's a monster under my bed.") and have imaginary companions;
- Have greater large-muscle control than toddlers and love to run, skip, jump with both feet, catch a ball, climb downstairs and dance to music;
- Have greater small-muscle control than toddlers, which is reflected in their drawings and scribbles;
- Match and sort things that are alike and unalike;
- Recognize numerals;
- Like silly humor, riddles and practical jokes;
- Understand and follow spoken directions;
- Use new words and longer sentences;
- Are aware of rhyming sounds in words;
- May attempt to read, calling attention to themselves and showing pride in their accomplishment;
- Recognize print around them on signs or in logos.
- Know that each alphabet letter has a name and identify at least 10 alphabet letters, especially those in their own names; and
- "Write," or scribble messages.
Between their fourth and fifth birthdays, children:
- Are active and have lots of energy and may be aggressive in their play;
- Enjoy more group activities, because they have longer attention spans;
- Like making faces and being silly;
- May form cliques with friends and may change friendships quickly;
- Have better muscle control in running, jumping and hopping;
- Recognize and write the numerals 1-10;
- Recognize shapes such as circles, squares, rectangles and triangles;
- Love to make rhymes, say nonsense words and tell jokes;
- Know and use words that are important to school work, such as the names for colors, shapes and numbers; know and use words that are important to daily life, such as street names and addresses;
- Know how books are held and read and follow print from left to right and from top to bottom of a page when listening to stories read aloud;
- Recognize the shapes and names of all letters of the alphabet and know the sounds of some letters; and
- Write some letters, particularly those in his own name.
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Education.
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