What should a 3-year-old know educationally? Read this list to find out the milestones your toddler should be hitting.
What you can read in this article?
- Your 3-year old’s milestones in 4 areas of development
- Tips to help your child reach his milestones
- When should you consult a doctor regarding your child’s development
Gone are the terrible twos. Now, you’re raising a threenager. This is considered one of the cutest stages in a child’s life because he knows more that it seems like he’s not your little baby anymore, but not enough to be considered a real kid.
As your child grows up, you’ll notice that his behavior and abilities change. From being your clingy little baby to a more independent toddler who may sometimes prefer his friends to mommy.
At this age, you may notice your child being more active, knowing more words, becoming more sociable, and more independent. It’s because his brain and body continue to develop as he grows.
It is also at 3 years old when some children start school, or in this case, preschool. It is when he has acquired the necessary skills to begin his journey to being educated, building relationships, and becoming a member of society.
What are milestones?
So, in order to be accepted into school, the child needs to hit certain developmental milestones or show some skills to prove that he is ready for this new chapter in his life.
Developmental milestones are a set of functional skills or specific tasks that a child must know how to do at a specific age range. Hitting or reaching these milestones is an indication that the child’s physical, mental and social development is on track or even advanced. In a way, these are also what what a 3-year-old should know educationally.
Not reaching milestones or reaching them much later than other children in the same age group can be an early sign that a child may have a developmental delay. This can help parents provide the additional support and care that a child needs.
You can expect the following skills from your child when they are 3 years old. Remember, milestones are guidelines for children to achieve their goals at their own pace. Some children have these skills before they become 3 years old, while others start late.
What should a 3-year-old know educationally?
While children develop at their own pace, children need to reach some major milestones first before they can be accepted in school. These milestones focus on four areas of development to ensure that we’re in tune of what our child needs.
In this article, we’ve compiled the different milestones that a child should learn at age 3.
1. Language and Communication Skills
This supports your child’s ability to communicate, express, and understand feelings. Language skills help them build and maintain interpersonal relationships.
Language development lays the foundation for children’s reading and writing skills so they can enter school with progress.
- Names friends
- Has conversations using 2-3 sentences at a time
- Knows how to use pronouns like “I,” “you,” and “we,” and knows some plural words like “dogs” and “cars”
- Names common objects and understands words like “in,” “on,” and “under”
- Says first name, age, and gender
- Speaks sentences with 5 to 6 words
- Asks wh- questions like who, what, where, and their most favorite of all, why
- Talks clearly enough that most can usually understand
To help your child improve their language development, involve your child in the conversation. Answer their questions. Expect that there will be many! Ask questions about yourself. According to research, reading books also helps him to develop his language skillls.
2. Social and Emotional
Positive social and emotional development is important to a child. This factor affect a child’s self-confidence, empathy and ability to develop meaningful and lasting friendships. This builds partnerships and a sense of meaning and appreciation for those around them.
- Copies what adults and friends do
- Doesn’t get upset when parents leave, like at daycare drop-off
- Starts playing with other kids
- Gets the idea of “mine,” “his,” and “hers”
- Likes to help with tasks around the house
- Openly shows affection
- Really likes routine — gets upset with big changes
- Shows concern when friends are upset without prompting
- Shows a wide range of feelings
- Takes turns when playing with others
- Starts finding simple ways to solve arguments and disagreements
- Interested in going to places and trying nice things
Some kids find it hard to play with their friends and that often results in misunderstanding. It can be helpful to encourage your child to figure their differences out on their own. It can help them practice their self-regulation skills. If someone gets aggressive, you can step in and address the situation.
3. Cognitive Skills
As they get older, children should improve their ability to concentrate, remember information and think critically. Cognitive skills enable children to understand the relationship between ideas, grasp the process of causality, and improve their analytical skills.
- Starts drawing (or trying to draw) circles
- Follows three-step directions
- Does 3-4 piece puzzles
- Recites numbers to 10
- Remembers and retell favorite stories
- Makes up stories and plays make-believe with animals, dolls, and people
- Names the eight basic colors in a crayon box – red, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple, brown, black
- Knows their gender and age
- Can understand the concept of “same” and “different”
Use emotional words such as sadness, anger, and joy in everyday conversations with children. Build up your child’s emotional vocabulary and make it easier for your child to learn their own vocabulary to express themselves.
4. Movement and Physical Development
This can help children improve their coordination, balance, gross motor skills (large movements such as crawling and walking), and fine motor skills (small movements such as picking up objects). In addition, games can help children use up their naturally stored energy. It can also encourage better eating and sleeping habits.
Gross motor skills:
- Runs without tripping over their own feet
- Jumps and may hop on one foot
- Pedals a tricycle
- Walks up and down stairs using one foot on each step
- Can kick and throw a small ball
Fine motor skills:
- Can draw circles with crayon, pencil or marker
- Can draw stick figures and use scissors
- Turns pages in a book one at a time
- Stacks more than six blocks
- Screws jar lids on and off and turn doorknobs
- Uses toys with levers, buttons, and moving parts
It may be concerning to see your child jumping everywhere. Parents became worried because of accidents but allowing children the freedom to run, climb and skip is essential.
Kids at this age must practice their physical abilities so that they can develop a better balance and coordination. With proper guidance and watching your children play, they can avoid unnecessary accidents.
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Tips on how to help your child reach his milestones
While children develop at their own pace, there are things that you can do to help him develop or hone his skills and hit his developmental milestones. Here are some things you can try:
- Allow plenty of time for play.
- When it’s safe, encourage your child to play and interact with other kids.
- Ask your child to talk about what they see or observe whenever you go out.
- Create and stick to a bedtime routine. Nightmares and waking at night are common at this age, but routine can help.
- Give your child plenty of time to play with you to develop a strong bond relationship.
- Read to your child every day and ask questions about the stories you have read.
- Sing simple songs together like nursery rhymes.
- Suggest activities like coloring, drawing, and doing art with crayons, paper, tape, markers, and other art supplies for kids.
- Talk and listen to your child. Ask them about what happened during the day with their friends or from the activities they did.
- Leave some room for mistakes. As long as he is safe, let your child explore his surroundings. Let him try to do things for himself. If he makes a mistake, tell him to try again and always be safe.
- When it comes to gadgets, most doctors suggest limiting screen time to a maximum of 1 hour. Keep technology out of their bedrooms. Always talk to your child about the things that he sees or learns online.
When to go to the doctor?
A word of caution: not hitting these milestones at the age of three might mean that there’s a developmental delay, but it’s not always the case. There are just some children who are shy and don’t reach these milestones right away.
However, if you are concerned about your child’s development, it is important to act early. Here are some possible signs that might indicate a delay or a problem with your child’s development or progress:
- Falls down a lot or has trouble with stairs
- Drools or has very unclear speech
- Can’t work simple toys (such as pegboards, simple puzzles, turning handles)
- Doesn’t speak in sentences
- Having trouble of understanding simple instructions
- Doesn’t play pretend or make-believe
- Your child doesn’t want to play with other children or with toys
- Hard time making eye contact
- Loses skills he once had
Tell your child’s doctor if you notice any of these signs of possible developmental delay for this age and ask for a developmental screening.
What should a 3-year-old know educationally? It actually depends on your child. At this age, it’s best to play it by ear and follow his interests to keep his attention and let him learn.
Remember, these development milestones are not reached quickly. Every child is unique and by the age of 3, your child may or may not be able to meet these requirements. For any concerns, always talk to your doctor or preschool teachers to evaluate what a 3-year-old should know educationally.
CDC, WebMD, VeryWellFamily, Understood.org
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