Here's What Your Child Should Know by Age 4

While all children develop in their own way and at their own pace, our age-by-age guide will show you what key milestones you might notice this year.
By Scholastic Parents Staff
Jul 13, 2019



Here's What Your Child Should Know by Age 4

Jul 13, 2019

What a difference a year makes! Your four-year-old isn't a toddler anymore, but a full-fledged preschooler. Like many parents, you may be wondering what developmental milestones await you and your four-year-old, particularly as you anticipate kindergarten in the not-so-distant future. Although every child develops at his or her own unique pace, here are some of the key milestones you might notice. 

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 on signs (such as “stop”)
  • Can identify whether or not two words rhyme, or whether they start with the same sound

Your Checklist for Reading Development

Scholastic Early Learners: Write and Wipe ABC 123  Need an easy way to get your little one writing letters without accumulating piles and piles of worksheets? This book provides an easy-to-clean, reusable surface for kids to practice writing upper- and lowercase letters and numbers. (See all of the Write and Wipe books here.

BOB Books Set #1: Beginning Readers — Introduce your child to sight words, rhyming words, and letter sounds with this BOB Books set perfect for kids beginning their reading journey. Created by a teacher, this set features ten books that gradually include more letter sounds until your child has read every letter of the alphabet. (Here's why BOB Books are often the first kids can read on their own!

Language Development

  • On average, a 4-year-old knows about 1,500 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 (four to five words) and may have more variety (for instance: “Grandma got me that, didn’t she?”)
  • Can listen to details and retell a story

Your Checklist for Language Development

Scholastic First Picture Dictionary — A visually engaging way to expand your child's vocabulary, this robust picture dictionary features over 700 words and stunning, colorful photos selected by experts.

WordplayThis fun and witty book teaches children about the different parts of speech with characters you'll recognize: Verb (who's always doing things, like climbing and frolicking!), Noun (who can be anything, and makes Verb a little jealous), and of course their friends Adjective, Adverb, and Interjection. Not only does this book teach preschoolers about language in a playful way, but it also imparts an important lesson about friendship and working together.  

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

Your Checklist for Physical Development

Draw with Clifford the Big Red Dog — Help give your future da Vinci a solid foundation of drawing and fine-motor skills with these activities that help strengthen visual perception and hand-eye coordination.

Scholastic Early Learners: Slide and Find Dinosaurs This book will improve your little one's hand-eye coordination skills with easy-to-use sliders that move to reveal dinos! As a bonus, it sneaks in plenty of practice with numbers. 

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

Your Checklist for Emotional Development

Llama Llama Time to Share — Even your child's favorite fictional characters have trouble sharing at first — in Llama Llama, Time to Share, Llama Llama doesn't want to share his toys with his new neighbor! But Llama Llama learns a valuable lesson that'll surely encourage your little one to share with his friends.

When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry... — Open up a conversation with your child on tantrums and anger with the help of Sophie, a little girl who is understandably really, really angry after her sister snatches her toy away.

Tools to Support Your Child's Development

Stages & Milestones
Alphabet Recognition
Self Control
Motor Skills
Age 4
Motor Skills
Songs and Rhymes
Early Social Skills
Word Recognition
Child Development and Behavior
Communication and Language Development
Alphabet Recognition
Social and Emotional Development
Early Reading
Physical Development