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Preschoolers Child Development

Developmental Milestones


Updated June 14, 2006

Review the physical, mental and social abilities and interests for younger toddlers aged 3, 4 and 5 years. Note that these lists indicate average development - the age range at which the 'average' child can he expected to achieve a particular skill or develop a specific interest. The ages in the text are only approximate. Children develop skills at uneven rates - any one child may be 'above average' in one skill and 'below average' in another skill. For an individual child, the parent is the best judge of the child's abilities and interests at any point in his or her development. Be sure to talk to your pediatrician or an early childhood development expert if you have any concerns about your child's development.

Preschool Physical Development

  • runs, jumps, climbs, balances with assurance - by 5, gross motor skills are well developed.
  • likes risks, tests of physical strength and skill - loves acrobatics and outdoor equipment.
  • increasing finger control - can pick up small objects, cut on a line with scissors, hold pencil in adult grasp, string small beads (Most children in this age group can begin using toys with smaller components. If child is still mouthing objects, select toys without small parts.)
  • expert builder - loves small construction materials and also vigorous activity with big blocks, large construction materials.
  • by 5, rudimentary interest in ball games with simple rules and scoring.

Preschool Mental Development

  • familiar with common shapes, primary colors.
  • interest in simple number activities, alphabet play, copying letters, matching/sorting.
  • by 5, sorts and matches using more than one quality at a time.
  • around 4, begins to be purposeful and goal directed, to make use of a plan.
  • interest in producing designs, including puzzles, and in constructing play worlds.
  • first representational pictures.
  • prefers realism.
  • interest in nature, science, animals, time, how things work.
  • peak interest in dramatic play - recreates adult occupations, uses costumes and props.

Preschool Social Development

  • beginning to share and take turns, learning concept of fair play.
  • by 5, play is cooperative, practical, conforming.
  • interested in group pretend play.
  • not ready for competitive play because hates to lose.
  • enjoys simple board games based on chance, not strategy.
  • more sex differentiation in play roles, interests.
  • enjoys looking at books and listening to stories from books.
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