What Your Child Should Know by Age 4

While all children develop in their own way, our age-by-age guide to child development can clue you in to key milestones you may observe.
Nov 06, 2012



What Your Child Should Know by Age 4

Nov 06, 2012

What a difference a year makes! Your 4-year-old isn't 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 not-so-distant future. 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
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