Child Development by Ages
Here are some guidelines for each age group, which help you understand your child's potential. Everyone develops differently, but most children reach these milestones by a certain age. Click on the bar below to find out more about each age.
At this age, your child believes that everything revolves around him or her. He or she is the center of the world, which is full of magic. His or her imagination is working all of the time. He or she is also learning to be a good companion to other children their own age. Preschool, day care or playgroup provides a great opportunity for your child to learn appropriate social skills.
What your child can see, hear and feel:
At this stage in his or her life, your child should be starting to be able to understand and answer simple questions, like 'what do you do if you are hungry or tired?' He or she is also learning the names of different shapes and colors.
It's still very important to maintain the rules you have already set, and to set firm and consistent limits for your child. This will help you teach your child the difference between right and wrong. He or she might appear to lie sometimes, but they will believe their lie is really telling the truth. Sometimes your child will have difficulty understanding the difference between reality and fantasy during this period of time. But he or she should also be starting to understand concepts of past, present and future around this age.
A good way to prepare your child for learning how to read is by playing pretend. For example, if a rock can 'be' an egg, then a group of letters can stand for a word. Similarly, if a picture can show an object, then a group of words can also show an object, even if this concept is a bit too abstract for him or her to understand yet.
Social and emotional development:
At this stage, your child might start having new fears, especially when they experience new sights and sounds. He or she will also learn how to share over the course of the year. They may have problems actually sharing (especially something they really like), but he or she should understand the concept of sharing by the age of four. You may notice your child might approach other children to play with them too!
Your child is learning how to follow simple rules in games like 'hide and seek' but will always want to win or be first. This is okay for now, because the point here is for your child to learn how to understand goals and rules. Playing 'fair' will come later. He or she will also enjoy playing make believe games from their own imagination. They will also be influenced by what he or she watches on TV. Your child might try to act as they were their favorite character, and this might show up in his or her pretend games. It's very important that you supervise what your child watches, since they are so young and impressionable.
Everything your child sees and hears at this point will make a lasting impression on him or her. This means your support and guidance is necessary to help him or her gain control of their emotions, as well as any aggressive of sexual impulses. It's normal for a child at this point in his or her development to explore their own bodies and genitals in a sexual manner. Your child will learn about what is appropriate from your messages to him or her.
Gross motor skills:
Your child is much better at walking and running now, and so now he or she will be working on their hand-eye coordination. Your child will learn how to catch a ball and how to pedal a tricycle. When riding the tricycle, you should make sure he or she is wearing a helmet. Your child may also really enjoy hopping, skipping and climbing!
Even though he or she is better coordinated, they may get injured more often due to newfound confidence in their skills. It's important to protect your child from falls by making sure that play equipment is safe and by supervising your child.
Fine motor skills:
Your child will learn how to hold a crayon better. Fat pencils and crayons are easier to grip. They will also help your child start drawing and pretend writing. At this stage he or she will also learn how to button and unbutton, as well as zip and unzip, their own clothes.
Your child may also offer to do household tasks or insist that he or she can do this by themselves. He or she may learn how to pour liquid (water, milk, juice) from a pitcher into a cup. It's normal for your child to spill though, so it's important to make sure your expectations are in line with your child's abilities.
Speech and language development:
As your child learns to speak better, you will find that he or she is very curious. Asking 'why' is a favorite activity for your child, because he or she wants to know what causes the events around him or her. Your child will learn to respond to the question 'why' in his or her own way and may ask the same question over and over again. Your child will learn to listen to the explanations of others with interest.
As this stage in their development, your child's vocabulary continues to grow rapidly. Your child is pronouncing words better, but may still leave out or substitute some sounds (especially "L" or "R").
Your child's imagination and his or her increased ability to remember the past make your child an interesting storyteller. He or she can also recite familiar stories you have read. Reading is all about playing with words and sounds through rhymes, songs and stories.
- Runs on tiptoe
- Understands "yesterday" and "tomorrow"
- Knows their name in print
- Uses sentences with correct grammar, such as, "May I go to the store?" or "I want a big cookie."
- Plays together with others
- Shows improved balance
- Hops on one foot without losing balance
- Throws a ball overhand with coordination
- Copies square shapes
- Draws a person with two to four body parts
- Can cut out a picture using scissors
- May not be able to tie shoelaces
- Draws circles and squares
- Begins to copy some capital letters
- Has a vocabulary of more than 1,000 words
- Can use the past tense
- Will ask the most questions of any age
- May use words that aren't fully understood
- May begin using vulgar words
- Learns and sings simple songs
- Tries to be very independent
- May show increased aggressive behavior
- Talks about personal family matters to others
- Commonly has imaginary playmate(s)
- Is able to tell the difference between two objects based on things like size and weight
- Lacks moral concepts of right and wrong
- Rebels if too much is expected of him or her
- Interested in new experiences
- Plays "Mom" or "Dad"
- Increasingly inventive in fantasy play
- Dresses and undresses
- Negotiates solutions to conflicts
- More independent
- Imagines that many unfamiliar images may be "monsters"
- Views self as a whole person involving body, mind, and feelings
- Often cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality
- Correctly names some colors
- Understands the concept of counting and may know a few numbers
- Follows three-part commands
- Recalls parts of a story
- Has mastered some basic rules of grammar
- Speaks clearly enough for strangers to understand
- Goes upstairs and downstairs without support
- Kicks ball forward
- Throws ball overhand
- Catches bounced ball most of the time
- Moves forward and backward with agility
Want to raise a well-rounded child? Discover the different kinds of developmental benefits to see how you can help your child grow into an intelligent and healthy individual! Click an image to find out more!
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