Child Development: Preschoolers

Blink—and They're Getting Ready for School

A-B-C and 1-2-3! You have a preschooler! You will be spending the next few years getting your child ready for kindergarten and answering "why," "what" and "who" a lot! Pretending and imagination is alive and well at this age. Your preschooler may develop a make-believe friend and change his or her own name on a daily basis! It's a magical world and make-believe is a big part of it.


Parenting Tips

Practice sharing. Model this behavior for your preschooler. Take turns at games, and use praise when your preschooler takes turns or is able to share. Put away any toys your child may not be willing to share when friends come over.

Use your words. Vocabulary is huge. Preschoolers should be using five- to six-word sentences and understanding concepts like "big" and "small." When they ask "why," respond with "What do you think?" Storytelling builds confidence and teaches children to communicate and use language. Also encourage our child to begin to identify letters. Stuttering can bea normal phase, especially when your preschooler is excited to get the words out. If it continues or worsens, see a doctor.

Bedtime may become a battlefield. Do what you can to make it a pleasant event. Give your preschooler a night light, soft music or special blanket if needed. Try to stick to your routine as much as you can, such as brushing teeth, reading a book and saying prayers before tucking your child in at night.

Your little one is growing up. But don't be surprised if it sometimes feels like your preschooler is going back to old behaviors. Your preschooler is trying new things and entering new situations. Fear will sometimes cause them to go back to old behavoris so they can get your attention and feel safe. Whining may occur more often. They may suddently become afraid of the dark. Provide reassurance and comfort. Encourage using words to express feelings, and then use praise when your child does.

Tempers may flare. Temper tanturms will fade as your preschooler learns how to manage feelings. As a parent it is helpful for you to remember that your preschoolers' actions are connected to feelings they are having. Help your child identify different feelings and use words and actions to express then in ways that are okay.

Developmental Milestones

At ages 4 to 5, your preschooler will learn or be able to:

  • read social cues
  • play with other children
  • use imagination
  • use self control
  • walk up steps
  • sort objects by size
  • count
  • draw a person with three different body parts
  • build a tower
  • ride a trike bike
  • throw a ball overhead
  • hop on one foot
  • use the toilet
  • wash hands
  • start sharing
  • follow a routine
  • tell the difference between make-believe and what is real
  • focus on a single activity for 10 minutes

Preschooler Health and Safety

Riding in the car. Most states allow booster seats in the care at age 4.

 Parenting Challenges


Play & Learn Activities Calendar

Help children learn through play by using one of the following age-specific monthly calendars that feature daily activities. Download the calendars:

March 2019: