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What Your Child Should Know by Age 4

Find the answers in our age-by-age guide to child development.
 

Learning Benefits

Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Motor Skills
Alphabet Recognition
Sharing
Self Control

What a difference a year makes! Your 4 year old is not a toddler anymore, but a full-fledged preschooler. Like many parents, you may be wondering what developmental milestones to be watching for, particularly as you anticipate kindergarten in the offing. Keeping in mind that every child develops in his or her unique way, here are some of the key milestones you may observe:

 

Reading Development:

  • Understands the idea of what a word is in print — and that words and sentences are read from left to right
  • Holds a book correctly and turns pages front to back
  • Has memorized some favorite books and can recite them along with you.
  • Knows some upper- and lowercase letters, and understands that letters stand for sounds (“B makes the buh sound”)
  • Can recognize his name and some familiar words in signs around them (such as “stop”)
  • Can identify whether or not two words rhyme, or whether they start with the same sound

 

Language Development:

  • On average, a 4 year old knows about 4,000 to 6,000 words, but don’t start counting! If your child’s vocabulary is increasing — and she shows an interest in learning and using new words — she’s on track!
  • His sentences are getting longer (4 to 5 words) and may have more variety (“Grandma got me that, didn’t she?”)
  • Can listen to details and retell a story

 

Physical Development:

  • Can walk heel-to-toe and run
  • May be able to climb jungle gyms at the playground (but needs close supervision!)
  • Can kick a ball
  • Can stand on one foot for four or five seconds
  • Can draw simple shapes, use scissors, and string beads
  • Can dress, undress, and brush teeth

 

Emotional Development:

  • Still has difficulty sharing but is beginning to understand taking turns
  • Wants to please friends (and maybe you too!)
  • May be quick to get angry but tries to control it or express it through words
  • Knows what tasks are expected but may lose focus on following through

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