Preschool Years 3 to 5

This page shares what developmental phases preschool-aged children experience. This page will also connect you with great video examples of what you can do to support development during this time. 

CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS AGE
  • Language Development: children understand the purpose of language and can better communicate their feelings, thoughts, and ideas. Vocabulary continues to grow and grow.  

  • Empathy Growing: with support, children begin to grow out of being egocentric and into a more community-driven mindset 

  • Best Friends: Peer relationships are very important 

  • Pretend Play: New skills are learned through role-playing and by imitating behaviors and scenarios they have seen before.

  • Tantrums: continue during this age, and are less often. Tantrums are a way children express themselves when flooded with emotion. It is important to provide comfort and clarity to your children during this time as they are not quite ready to rationalize their feelings.

The CDC has a great checklist tracker for important milestones to keep track of. 

3 years old

4 years old

5 years old

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT YOUR CHILD DURING THESE YEARS
  • READ OFTEN

    • read with your child every day. make reading time special; let your child choose books that make them feel connected. 

    • keep a variety of books in your house, books are important in sharing messages about our world

VIDEO EXAMPLES: 

  • INTRODUCE NEW MATERIALS

    • at this age, children are using their hands in more productive ways; introducing simple tools in safe ways, under supervision, can be beneficial for their creative mind

      • hand drills, kitchen tools, scissors​

      • clay and playdough can increase hand strength and dexterity

VIDEO EXAMPLES:

  • PLAY TOGETHER

    • Play board games to encourage counting and number sense

    • let your child lead you in imaginative play; allow them to feel what the role of leadership is like; teach them to be a fair and just leader

VIDEO EXAMPLES:

  • SING OFTEN

    • sing and perform fingerplays to fine-tune communication skills, language comprehension and vocabulary

    • children connect with songs; music opens up creativity in the mind and makes connections stronger.

VIDEO EXAMPLES:

Quick Facts 

COGNITIVE
  • During this preoperational stage of development, children use symbols to represent their understanding of the world (using a leaf as a concert ticket)

  • Children begin to show pre-reading skills such as phonological awareness

  • Number sense begins to grow and children begin counting and noticing numbers in the world around them

SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL
  • At age three, children are growing  into associate play: doing the same activity with another child without intentional interaction. Cooperative play rises around age four and children start to plan and play together.​ 

  • With new social skills, children plan activities and, when supported by adults, feel secure in their ability to take initiative to lead others and make decisions. 

PHYSICAL
  • Your child is robust and ready to climb, run, and pedal a tricycle.

  • Provide ample opportunities to practice physical movements in a variety of settings and ways: playgrounds, natural settings (woods), yoga class, music and movement (dance) 

  • Increased hand strength leads to an opportunity to grow skills like holding a pencil, stringing beads, building and manipulating puzzles