Children Age 3 Through 5: The Preschool Years
The years from 3 through 5 are often referred to as the preschool years. Many young children are entering a school-like setting for the first time. Although growth has slowed somewhat from the frantic pace of the earlier years, development is still rapid during this period. A 3-year-old is very different developmentally from his 5-year-old friend, and each year brings new milestones.
Mario is very much a child and no longer a baby. He has lost most of the baby fat that gave him that chubby look of younger children. Mario’s physical skills have grown, and he is able to balance on one foot, unbutton and button clothing, and ride a tricycle. He has achieved bowel and bladder control and can use the toilet with limited supervision.
Mario’s language continues to develop, with increased vocabulary and sentence structure. He is better able to engage in a real conversation with others, talking with rather than just to others. Mario is full of questions about his world and constantly asks for information about the people and things around him.
During this year, Mario is developing conceptual understanding through playing with people and things. His pretend play has become more complex, and Mario can now include two or three other children in the scenarios he creates. Although his attention span is still relatively short, Mario can use his lively imagination to play out complex themes, especially those in which he imitates adult roles. In the block corner, Mario often constructs and then names what he has made.
Socially and emotionally, Mario continues to make significant progress. He can now establish and maintain short-term friendships with others and begins to enjoy playing with rather than near his buddies. Mario is learning to use social skills such as taking turns, but he finds it difficult to use these emerging skills consistently. His imaginary friend, Buffy, is often included in play themes around home and in school. Mario is often frightened by large dogs and horses and needs comforting when he encounters these animals. Like Mario, many young children are only beginning to use this important social skill.
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