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3- to 4-Year-Olds: Developmental Milestones

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Congratulations, you have survived the "terrible two's!" Hopefully, you have energy left to enjoy what lies ahead for you and your preschooler. They call the next few years the "magic years" -- partly because it seems like magic that your child is finally listening to you and partly because for your child, it is a time for his or her imagination to run wild.

Your 3- to 4-year-old child will continue to grow and develop in many ways in the coming year. Although children reach developmental milestones at different times, your child will likely achieve the following developmental milestones before he or she turns 5.

3- to 4-Year-Old Development: Language Milestones

If your child is not very talkative, that will likely change soon. Between or at ages 3 and 4, your child should be able to:

  • Say his or her name and age
  • Speak 250 to 500 words
  • Answer simple questions
  • Speak in sentences of five to six words, and speak in complete sentences by age 4
  • Speak clearly
  • Tell stories

3- to 4-Year-Old Development: Cognitive Milestones

Your child will start asking lots of questions. "Why is the sky blue? Why do birds have feathers?" Questions, questions, and more questions! While it may be annoying at times, asking questions is a normal developmental milestone. In addition to asking "why?" all the time, your 3- to 4-year-old should be able to:

  • Correctly name familiar colors
  • Understand the idea of same and different
  • Pretend and fantasize more creatively
  • Follow three-part commands
  • Remember parts of a story
  • Understand time better (for example, morning, afternoon, night)
  • Count, and understand the concept of counting
  • Sort objects by shape and color
  • Complete age-appropriate puzzles
  • Recognize and identify common objects and pictures

3- to 4-Year-Old Development: Movement Milestones

Your busy preschooler continues to be on the move. Between or at ages 3 and 4, your child should be able to:

  • Walk up and down stairs, alternating feet -- one foot per step
  • Kick, throw, and catch a ball
  • Climb well
  • Run more confidently and ride a tricycle
  • Hop and stand on one foot for up to five seconds
  • Walk forward and backward easily
  • Bend over without falling

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