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Your Child's Physical Development 3-4 years

3 to 4 Years

Your child at a glance


Movement and balance improves, along with precision of motion. During this stage you are likely to see your child:
  • Running around obstacles and climbing well
  • Walking up and down stairs, using alternating feet and one foot per step
  • Balancing on one foot
  • Rolling and bouncing a ball (catching a ball may still be tricky, but gets easier during the year)
  • Increasingly better at dressing himself, and eventually managing buttons and zips
  • Building taller towers and completing puzzles with more and smaller pieces
  • Stringing large beads and cutting with scissors
  • Learning to hold a pencil or crayon using three fingers

Your child’s story


Girl on swingYour toddler is enjoying his confidence in moving around, and will take great pleasure in running, climbing and generally engaging in physical play. During this stage he will also be able to ride a tricycle using the pedals, and will have lots of fun jumping and balancing. He is now starting to walk stairs like he has seen you do, alternating feet as well as putting one foot on each step. He may kick a ball that is stationary on the ground, and can also roll and bounce a ball. Catching a ball may still be quite difficult at this age. When a swing is put in motion for him, he will start to be able to swing on it himself.

Your child will learn to get dressed without your help, and after quite a lot of practice she may master the skill of both buttoning and zipping by the time she turns four years old. With increased balance, she can bend down to pick things up with ease, without falling. She will be able to push, pull, and steer different toys.

Fine motor development is also moving forward, and your toddler will be able to use both spoon and fork well, with little spilling, around this age. He will enjoy completing puzzles that have smaller and more pieces (5-6), and can now build taller towers using various building blocks.

Drawing continues to provide lots of fun, and your toddler will learn to draw crosses by imitating you, as well as drawing circles. You may also find that she is starting to draw people during this stage, usually including very few details at first, but will draw the head. She will learn to hold a pencil or crayon correctly, within three fingers, and also cutting with scissors. Another step forward is how she manipulates clay or play dough, now making balls, snakes and other shapes.

What you can do to support and encourage your child’s development


With your child's love of physical activity, your supervision to ensure safety is as important as providing plenty of opportunities for physical play. He will love climbing frames, using slides by himself, and swing on a swing (once you have set him in motion). A tricycle will also provide hours of fun as he puts in practice to improve his skills. At this age, it is also useful to play games with him that engages him in simple rules so that he can start learning about playing cooperatively.

Continue to play music and sing songs that you both can dance and move around to. Also, play with a ball so your toddler can bounce, throw and kick it, as well as start to practice catching.

Your toddler will tend to get engrossed in physical activity and will probably not yet know how to pace herself. She needs you to help provide balance and introduce quiet activities such as reading, drawing, painting and using play dough. Encourage and join in as much as you can, as your child still learns best when watching what you do and hearing your encouragement and comments when she does something herself.


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