Preschooler Milestones

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Between the ages of 3 - 5, development is significant as little ones grow in leaps and bounds and are almost always ready for fun.

There are lots of fun developmental milestones you can watch for are your little one transitions into his preschool years, says Ari Brown, M.D. author of Toddler 411 (Windsor Peak, 2015)Toddlers begin discovering their senses of humors and work hard to put together those unique sentences that little ones are famous for. Climbing, running and pedaling will have you chasing after your preschooler a lot — stay positive! The world is a preschooler’s oyster, and it all works great when YOU can enjoy it with him.

Here are some of the developmental milestones in preschoolers to look for at ages 3, 4 and 5 years in Social/Emotional, Language/Communication, Cognitive and Movement/Physical Development areas:

3-YEAR-OLDS

Social/Emotional:

• Copies adults and friends
• Takes turns in games
• Shows a wide range of emotions
• May get upset with major changes in routine

Language/Communication:

• Can name most familiar things
• Names a friend
• Follows instructions with two or three steps
• Carries on a conversation using two to three sentences
• Talks well enough for strangers to understand most of the time

Cognitive:

• Can work toys with buttons, levers and moving parts
• Plays make-believe with dolls, animals and people
• Copies a circle with a pencil or crayon
• Turns book pages one at a time
• Builds tower of more than six blocks

Movement/Physical Development:

• Climbs well
• Runs easily
• Pedals a tricycle
• Walk up and down stairs, one foot on each step

4-YEAR-OLDS

Social/Emotional:

• Enjoys doing new things
• Would rather play with other children than alone
• Cooperates with other children
• Plays “Mom” and “Dad”
• Often can’t tell what’s real and what’s make-believe

Language/Communication:

• Can say first and last name
• Tells stories
• Knows a few basic rules of grammar like correctly using “he” and “she”
• Sings a song or says a poem from memory (like “Itsy Bitsy Spider”)

Cognitive:

• Names some colors and numbers
• Understands the idea of counting
• Remembers parts of a story
• Uses scissors
• Plays board or card games
• Tells you what he thinks will happen next in a book
• Draws a person with two to four body parts

Movement/Physical Development:

• Hops and stands on one foot up to two seconds
• Catches a bouncing ball most of the time
• Pours, cuts with supervision and mashes own food

5-YEAR-OLDS

Social/Emotional:

• Wants to please friends
• Wants to be like friends
• Likes to sing, dance and act
• Can tell what’s real and what’s make-believe
• Shows concern and sympathy for others
• Shows more independence
• Is aware of gender
• More likely to agree with rules

Language/Communication:

• Speaks very clearly
• Tells a simple story using full sentences
• Uses future tense
• Says name and address

Cognitive:

• Counts 10 or more things
• Can print some letters or numbers
• Copies geometric shapes
• Knows about things used every day like money and food

Movement/Physical Development:

• Uses a fork and spoon and sometimes a table knife
• Can use the toilet on his own
• Swings and climbs
• Stands on one foot for 10 seconds or longer
• Hops — may be able to skip
• Can do a somersault

Keep in mind that some children develop slower and some develop faster than others. If you have concerns about the standard developmental milestones in your preschoolers, contact your child’s pediatrician.

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