Developmental Checklist for 3-5 Year Olds

Use this guide to learn about the development and books and resources that help the development of your 3- to 5-year-old.

By Michelle Anthony, PhD



Developmental Checklist for 3-5 Year Olds

Preschoolers are a bundle of energy, wonder, and magic. Between 3 and 5, they change from toddlers to school-goers. Take a peek at some of the major achievements of this age, and then click on the associated hyperlinks to get a more in-depth view of the many things that children this age are learning!

By the end of this period your child:

  • Should be able to:
  • Use symbols for non-present objects (e.g., a drawing, a letter) (cognitive development)
  • Sort by more than one attribute (e.g.,color and size) (academic skills)
  • Have a vocabulary of at least 5,000-8,000 words (language & literacy)
  • Display empathy for a peer (social development)
  • Engage in symbolic play (e.g.,use a checker as a cookie) (creativity development)

Will probably be able to:

  • Have a basic sense of time, although they may use words like yesterday to mean a week ago (cognitive development)
  • Show basic understanding of cause and effect (e.g., when I run, my heart beats faster) (academic skills)
  • Know most of their letters and sounds and be reading simple phonetic sentences (language & literacy)
  • Identify stable characteristics of themselves, such as gender or race (social development)
  • Preplan a story, role, or game and build off their imagination to carry it out (creativity development)

May possibly be able to:

  • Understand that a single item can be part of more than one group (e.g., be both a girl and a child) (cognitive development)
  • Independently do addition and subtraction in their head. (academic skills)
  • Read simple books independently (language & literacy)
  • Use words to describe emotions instead of acting on them (social development)
  • Demonstrate divergent thinking (e.g., come up with multiple, unusual uses of a common item such as a toilet paper roll) (creativity development)
Sorting and Classifying
Language Arts
Cognitive Skills
Raising Kids
Age 5
Age 4
Age 3
Child Development and Behavior
Communication and Language Development
Early Math
Early Reading
Learning and Cognitive Development