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Your Child's Cognitive Development 3-4 years

3 to 4 Years
Encourage and support your child to express her feelings and thoughts about various experiences and situations

Your child at a glance

Your child's independence is really showing itself through how well he gets on with things himself, and separation anxiety decreases. During this stage you are likely to see your child:
  • Being able to dress and feed himself without much difficulty (except perhaps laces and more 'awkward' buttoning solutions)
  • Engaging in 'dramatic' play activities that reflect social experiences
  • Showing less separation anxiety (though it may reappear in situations where she is less secure)
  • Experiencing more imaginary fears (such as 'seeing' monsters in the dark)
  • Having an increased attention span, and starting to show more understanding of concepts such as time
  • Starting to understand about own self and that of others, though still self centred in thinking and behaviour
  • Making drawings that are more ‘recognisable’

Your child's story

Your child is increasingly becoming more independent, and wants to do things himself. During this stage you will notice how well he will be at feeding and dressing himself (though may still need your help with laces or complicated zippers). Your child has his own inner world of thinking, and you will be able to hear him vocalise some of his ideas and thoughts as he gets better and better at expressing himself.

Child stacking blocksDuring this stage your child will increasingly show interest in playing with other children, and you will see the beginnings of friendship making. She will engage in ‘dramatic’ play with other children and their pretend play will reflect actual social experiences more closely. She will also know her own name and age, and starts showing more awareness and understanding of time, of past and present. This means she is starting to retain past events and be able to look forward to events in the future. She will also learn about the seasons and typical activities associates with them. She will very likely be asking you a lot of ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions.

Your little one now grasps concepts such as 'one' and 'lots'. During this year he will be able to count up to four objects, and you’ll see memory progression in how he retains and says/sings songs and nursery rhymes. He is learning to sort objects into groups, looking at similarities and differences in shape, colour and size. He will probably know 4-6 colours, and will be able to match some of them (often red and yellow).

Drawings and paintings are now starting to be recognisable as people, flowers, cars, etc, and your child will start naming and briefly explaining the picture to you. Eventually she draws a human figure with a head, body, arms, legs and perhaps five fingers. By four years, you may see her draw a square and attempt at some capital letters.

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

Allow your child to help you with various activities, such as cooking, baking and wiping the table, and engage him in taking care of and putting away own clothes and toys. Make it fun. This will help him learn about independence and responsibility.

Child looking at goldfish bowlProvide opportunities for her to talk about what is going on inside her mind, what she thinks and feels about different situations and experiences. This is helping her learn about expressing emotions and thoughts.

Do jigsaw puzzles together and help your child practice physical activities such as throwing/catching ball or riding a tricycle. Art and craft activities are still important and enjoyable – use crayons, paint, play dough. Your child loves spending time with you, but play with other children is increasingly fun for him and important for learning. Encourage and support friendship making.

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