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

Age

4

What Your Child Should Know by Age 4

Nov 06, 2012

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. 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”) (Need an easy way to get your little one writing letters without accumulating piles and piles of worksheets? This Write and Wipe ABC 123 book provides an easy-to-clean, reusable surface for kids to practice writing upper- and lowercase letters and numbers.)
  • 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 (Not much of a poet? Get some help on the rhyming front with the popular BOB Books: Rhyming Words box set, which comes with flashcards and easy-to-digest mini books.)

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! (A visually engaging way to boost your child's vocabulary is with a picture dictionary that'll add to your child's vocabulary with the help of stunning, colorful photos.)
  • 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 (Help give your future da Vinci a solid foundation of drawing and fine-motor skills with these Clifford the Big Red Dog drawing activities.)
  • Can dress, undress, and brush teeth

Emotional Development:

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

Help With Your Child's Development

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