Developmental Guide for Ages 3 to 4
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Below is a development guide for children ages three to four years old.  These guidelines are available to help you know what objectives to work on with your child.  These guidelines are also the basis of the ABCJLM 3 Year Curriculum .  According to Kyla Boyse, R. N., "Developmental milestones are a set of functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children can do at a certain age range.  Your pediatrician uses milestones to help check how your child is developing.  Although each milestone has an age level, the actual age when a normally developing child reaches that milestone can vary quite a bit."  Any concerns that you have should be addressed with your pediatrician.

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• runs around obstacles
• walks on a line
• balances on one foot for a few seconds
• begin hopping on one foot
• pushes, pulls, steers wheeled toys
• rides tricycle
• uses slide independently
• jumps over six inch high object and lands on both feet together
• throws ball overhead with some accuracy
• walk up and down stairs alternating feet
• swing, starting by himself and keeping himself going
• climbs well
• kicks a ball


• builds tower of nine small blocks
• drives nails and pegs
• put together a simple puzzle of 4-12 pieces
• pretend to play with imaginary objects
• like to play "dress up"
• help clean up toys at home or school when asked to
• change the rules of a game as he goes along
• try to bargain ("I'll give you this toy if you'll give me that one")
• turns book pages one at a time
• screws and unscrews jar lids, nuts and bolts
• turns rotating handles
• plays make-believe with dolls, animals and people
• manipulates clay material (rolls balls, snakes, cookies)

Drawing & Cutting

• copies circle
• imitates cross
• hold a pencil
• try to write name
• draw with the arm and not small hand movements
• draw a face
• makes vertical, horizontal and circular strokes with pencil or crayon
• attempts at drawing people start out relatively crudely and with very little detail, but will soon progress to include several body parts.

Personal Care

• feed herself (with little spilling)
• completely undress herself if wearing clothes with simple fasteners
• brush teeth with help
• pour from a small pitcher
• use the toilet alone
• try to do buttons but still require a little assistance


• can tell a story;
• sentence length of 4-5 words
• vocabulary of about 1000 words
• knows last name, age, name of street and town,
• knows several nursery rhymes
• use good grammar often
• use "a," "an," and "the" when speaking
• want explanations of "why" and "how"
• understands physical relationships ("on," "in," "under")
• uses pronouns (I, you, me, we, they) and some plurals (cars, dogs, cats)

Sensory and Thinking Skills

• understand taking turns and can do so without always being reminded
• want to know what will happen next
• follow three instructions given at one time ("Put the toys away, wash your hands, and come eat.")
• distinguish between the real world and the imaginary or pretend world
• identify situations that would lead to happiness, sadness, or anger

Developmental Health Watch

The developmental milestones give you a general idea of the changes you can expect as your child gets older, but don't be alarmed if her development takes a slightly different course. Each child develops at her own pace. Do consult your pediatrician, however, if your child displays any of the following signs of possible developmental delay for this age range.

• Frequent falling and difficulty with stairs
• Persistent drooling or very unclear speech
• Inability to build a tower of more than four blocks
• Difficulty manipulating small objects
• Inability to copy a circle by age 3
• Inability to communicate in short phrases
• No involvement in "pretend" play
• Failure to understand simple instructions
• Little interest in other children
• Extreme difficulty separating from mother

Excerpted from Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 , Bantam 1999

This information is provided as a guide only.  Because every child is different consult your pediatrician as this list is a generalization.


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