Milestones not to miss
Watch for sentence savvy.
Kids’ verbal skills take off between ages 3 and 5. While a 2-year-old generally uses “Tarzan talk” such as “Want juice,” preschoolers begin to speak in complete sentences. They’re also better able to describe their feelings, answer questions more appropriately, use new words, and say things that are truly (and even intentionally) funny. And rather than merely repeating phrases they hear, they begin to show a deeper understanding of how the world works. You might even notice your child correcting you on certain topics or things.
Fine motor skills develop rapidly at this age. Three- to 4- year-olds can usually manage buttoning clothes, washing their hands, and using a spoon, though they may still need some help. While your child used to be completely dependent on you, she’s becoming more independent in a variety of ways. She should be able to pick up her toys, put her clothes in the hamper, and even clear dishes from the dinner table. While she might not perform these tasks perfectly, she can definitely be helpful and make your life a little bit easier.
Feed his curiosity.
Preschoolers eat up new information. The “why, why, why” phase that often occurs at this age is their way of building a knowledge base and learning about their world. Your child may even grasp facts and details that catch you by surprise—like knowing his birthday or full name. He’ll also start recognizing and learning the names of shapes, colors, and letters, and might even be able to read “STOP” on a stop sign.
Give cheerful goodbyes.
Separating more easily from you is often another benefit of this age. Preschoolers become more comfortable being away from their parents. Your child is beginning to understand abstract concepts like time. When she realizes you’ll be back soon, she can say goodbye more easily, and you just might feel a little less sad about leaving her too.
Children this age are starting to identify their own emotions and even pick up on other people’s feelings, which makes them more empathetic. Your child will probably notice when you’re upset and may try to comfort you or say something to make you feel better.
Sources: Michael Assel, PH.D., professor of pediatrics at The Children’s Learning Institute at UT Health Science Center at Houston; Laura Stout Sosinsky, PH.D., research scientist at Public Health Management Corporation, in Philadelphia.