- Importance of this age
- Developmental Milestones Circle: Three to Four Years
- Points for concern
- Intervention through play
By the age of four, the child develops good control over the body. They can run up and down stairs, negotiate slopes, change speed when running, judge distance and speed, jumping across ditches and playing with bat and ball. Their hands are now able to perform fine tasks, making them independent in all activities of self-care. They can button their clothes, cut with scissors and stabilize objects with one hand while working with the other, such as when using a lock and key.
Greater independence and greater social skills allow children to spend more time with other children. They learn rules and can play complex games with their friends. The pretend play is more elaborate and whole scenes are acted out with props. Play is an important way of practicing social negotiations and language is an essential part of this. Children are speaking clearly and in long complex, grammatically correct sentences. They discuss and plan entire sequences of play through which they develop planning, negotiation, reasoning, memory, sequencing and a host of other skills.
Children are still dependent on adults for guidance and security and will return frequently to talk, ask, explain and relate events, seeking approval and support. Language gives them a way to express their feelings and thoughts. This is the age of endless questions as they seek to actively understand everything from the rules of behavior to the way something works.
Children can recall and retell stories and events. They can create stories by looking at pictures and using their imagination. Children can now represent their thoughts through drawings that often have recognizable features even if the whole image still needs explanation. They can copy figures like cats, trees and houses with all the details. Many children will build elaborate structures made of mud, blocks, or anything that is handy. Entire cities or scenes will be constructed showing their ability to use objects to represent ideas and memories.
Children will recite songs, rhymes, alphabets and numbers by this age. With exposure, many will recognize alphabets, their name, numbers and other symbols they see repeatedly. Many children will have one-to-one correspondence and be able to count objects up to five correctly. Children can also sequence objects by size. Children have a concept of groups – boy and girl, children and adults, animals and birds. Their knowledge now extends beyond their family and they will know for example, what a doctor does and if a family member is sick, will suggest that they go to a doctor.
Children at this age are active problem solvers, seekers of information and engage with enthusiasm with their expanding world.