Development Milestones and Activities for Four Years Old
Nothing beats being in the front row, watching your child develop into an active preschooler. Your presence and support have helped your child reach the milestones he/she has met so far.
If you want to learn more about child development and developmental milestones, please read the Parent's Guide to Understanding Child Development
To guide you as you monitor your child's development in the areas of cognition, social and emotions, language, and physical, here are the developmental milestones expected from your 4-year-old toddler.
You may also download and print your copy of the Tiny Steps Developmental Milestones and Activities – 4 Years Old Checklist for your convenience.
Developmental Milestones and Recommended Activities
At four years old, your child is asserting his/her independence to make decisions and do things for himself/herself. Your preschooler may be testing his/her boundaries, so you need to be clear and firm about the rules that your child needs to follow.
Your child's vocabulary continues to expand as his/her ability to interact and make early relationships.
Here are the other developmental milestones of a 4-year-old.
- Can identify and name some colors
- Can name some numbers
Your child may be able to recite from one to ten. You can encourage your child to count by incorporating counting in his/her daily activities like counting the steps as you he/she climbs out or counting as he/she washes his/her hands.
- Understands what counting is
At four, your child can associate numbers with quantity and understand what counting means. He/she may start to match the number of his/her toys or books to a number.
- Can recall some parts of a story
Your child may be able to recall and narrate back some or all parts of the story you have read to him/her.
- Understands what "same"and "different"
- Draws a human with two to four parts of the body
Your little artist starts to show initiative in drawing objects, places, and even people. The figure that he/she draws may display at least two or four parts of the body.
- Can cut using a pair of scissors
Those tiny muscles in your child’s hands are becoming stronger, and at four years old, your child can already do some basic cutting using a pair of scissors.
- Begins to write big/capital letters
Your child's writing becomes more defined, and he/she may start writing letters. Most kids prefer to write big letters first.
- May be able to write the first name
Depending on your child's interest in writing, he/she may be able to write his first name.
- Plays games (e.g., card and board games)
Play is still your child's main activity, but at this age, he/she may start playing with simple card and board games.
- Tries to guess the flow of the story
Your child becomes an active listener as he/she takes part by trying to guess the next thing that will happen to the character or the story.
- Understands the concept of time
Your child can differentiate morning, afternoon, and evening.
Social and Emotional
- Likes to try new things
Your child's sense of curiosity and adventure allows him to show interest in trying out new things.
- Tries to act like his/her parents
At four, your child still copies the words and actions of the people he/she is around the most.
- Becomes more imaginative and creative during pretend play.
Imaginative play develops to be more detailed and elaborate as your child becomes so immersed in the make-believe world or story he has created.
- Enjoys playing with other kids
Your child seeks the company of other kids, and he/she prefers to play in groups rather than by himself/herself.
- Cooperates with other kids
He/she understands the concept and value of taking turns and sharing.
- Can't distinguish real from make-believe
Your child may tend to believe everything you say because he/she cannot distinguish facts from make-believe or lies.
- Enthusiastically talks about things he/she is interested in.
You will notice that your child talks a lot about his/her favorite toys, playmate, or anything that he is very interested in.
- Knows basic grammar
Besides knowing 1,000 words, your child can construct sentences with his/her basic knowledge of grammar. He/she can use the correct pronouns (e.g. "I,", me,", ",you,", "he,", "she", "him, "her.")
- Sings nursery rhymes or says a short poem
- Can narrate an experience or a story
Your child becomes more expressive and enthusiastic in sharing an experience such as his/her first day at school, games at a children's party, or art that he/she made.
- Can say necessary personal information like name and age
Your child knows and can state his/her personal information such as name and age at this age. You can also teach him/her more details like his/her birthday, address, and school name.
- Recognize common word signs like "STOP."
- Can follow 3-part commands
- Can hop up to nine seconds
- Walk the stairs without help
- Can pedal a tricycle
Recommended Activities for 4 years old
- Encourage pretend-play by playing with your child.
- Help prepare your child for an event or an activity he/she is anxious about through role-playing.
- Teach your child about sharing.
- Provide educational and open-ended toys.
- Talk like an adult to your child. Use correct grammar.
- Use ordinals when talking about sequences of activities and events.
- Let your child ask questions freely. Set aside time to answer his/her questions. Research if necessary.
- Make reading a book interactive by asking your child what will happen next.
- Incorporate teaching concepts to your child in daily activities. E.g., describing the color of his/her shirt, counting steps as you walk.
- Encourage outdoor play.
- Play music. Sing and dance with your child.
- Play counting games.
- Assist your child in climbing the chair and eventually let him/her use the rail.
- Encourage outdoor play
When to Talk to Your Doctor
While children vary in their development pace, talk to your doctor if you notice any delay or have any concerns about your child's progress. Here are some signals that your child may need additional support and intervention.
- Not meeting expected milestones
- Cannot jump in place
- Has trouble holding a pencil and scribbling
- Does not show any interest in pretend play or interactive games
- Ignores other kids and other people
- Resists activities such as sleeping, dressing up, bathing, and using the toilet
- Cannot narrate back his/her favorite story
- Has difficulty following 3 -part commands
- Does not understand what "same" and "different" means
- Does not know or use common basic grammar rules
- Does not talk clearly
- Loses skills that he/she used to have
We will share the development milestone and recommended activities for the 5-year-old child in our next blog post.
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