Understanding 3, 4, and 5 year olds

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PIES Development


  • Physical Development of Three-Year-Olds: They are constantly moving, tasting, smelling, and touching. As a result of being up and about everywhere this helps their body coordination improve greatly.
  • Physical Development of Four-and FIve-Year-Olds: They have great improvement in their body strength and coordination. At this point physical skills become easier because their body proportions are changing. Comparing their height to toddlers, they have pretty short legs. But once the child reaches five and a half year, more children's legs are about half the length of a body.


  • Intellectual Development of Three-Year-Olds: Increased use of verbal representation but speech is egocentric. The beginnings of symbolic rather than simple motor play. They can think about something without the object being present by the use of language.
  • Intellectual Development of Four-and Five-Year-Olds: Speech becomes more social, less egocentric. The child has an intuitive grasp of logical concepts in some areas. However, there is still a tendency to focus attention on one aspect of an object while ignoring others. Concepts formed are crude and irreversible. Easy to believe in magical increase, decrease, disappearance. Reality not firm. Perceptions dominate judgment.


  • Emotional Development of Three-Year-Olds: At his age they are beginning to understand the emotions that he/she is feeling. They still have very little control over them and if he/she finds something funny, they will laugh hysterically, if something makes them feel sad or angry, they will burst into tears. At this age, your preschooler still hasn't developed much impulse control. If they feel something, then they will most likely act on it. For example, snatching a toy away from another child if he/she wants to play with it, or getting upset when he/she wants a snack after being told they have to wait until dinnertime.

Between these ages children may also use hitting, biting, or pushing as a way to solve conflicts. They don't understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate interactions yet. It's your job to teach your child that there are right and wrong ways to express emotions and resolve problems with others.

  • Emotional Development of Four-Year-Olds: Your 4-year-old is also a budding comedian. They are starting to develop a sense of humor, and they love being silly and making people laugh. Empathy also begins to emerge around age 4. Four-year-olds are starting to understand that others have feelings and they can relate when a friend is feeling sad or hurt. They may want to give a crying friend a hug or kiss their boo boo.
  • Emotional Development of Five-Year-Olds: By age 5, your child has made leaps and bounds in their emotional development. They've gotten much better at regulating their emotions, and he/she talks about he/she's feelings easily. They have also gotten better at controlling their impulses. He/she patiently waits their turn, and often asks first before taking something that isn't their's. When something makes your 5-year-old mad, are are much more likely to express their anger using words instead of getting physical or throwing a tantrum. The downside to this is that he/she may begin to use mean words and name-calling when angry or upset.


  • Social Development of Three-Year-Olds: At this age they can follow simple directions and enjoy helping with household tasks. They begins to recognize their own limits as well. For the most part the still like to play alone, but near other children. They are also not very cooperate or share well. But they are able to make choices between two things.
  • Social Development of Four-and Five-Year-Olds: They are very good at taking turns, sharing, and cooperating with one another. They are now able to express their anger verbally rather than physically and throwing tantrums. They may sometimes lie to protect themselves, but understands the concept of lying.
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Self-Help Skills


  • Can completely undress self
  • Independently puts on socks, coat, sweater, pants large buttons and snaps
  • Eats entire meal independently
  • Uses a spoon and fork effectively
  • Washes hands without any help
  • Wipes nose without help but may need a reminder

Four-and Five-Year-Olds

  • Dresses and undresses without any assistance needed
  • Uses all feeding utensils
  • Cares for own toileting needs
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The importance of play

* Play helps every aspect of children’s development it forms the foundation of intellectual, social, physical, and emotional skills necessary for success in school and in their life

* It helps kids become creative and have more of a social and interactive time with other children as well.

*They learn when they play in environments with hands-on, concrete materials that encourage exploration, discovery, manipulation, and active engagement.

5 Developmentally activites for 3,4 , and 5 year olds

3 year olds

*sponge painting

*fit in puzzles from 3yr olds (4-20pcs) 4yr olds (15-30pcs) 5yr olds(15-50pcs)


*build a fort

*Finger painting

4 year olds

*from age 4, interlocking plastic blocks with pieces of all sizes

*making up stories

*making simple jewelry

*Throwing, catching, and kicking balls


5 year olds

*make cards

*Group items that are similar

*cutting pictures and coloring them

*scavenger hunts


Self Help Skills

*3 Year Olds

  • Removes loose clothing
  • Attempts to wash hands
  • Indicate toilety needs
  • Cooperates with changing

*4 Year Olds

  • Completely undresses self
  • Eats entire meal independently
  • Wash hands
  • Pours liquid with assistance

*5 Years Old

  • Uses all feeding utencils
  • Cares for own toileting needs