Your 4-Year-Old: Developmental milestones





Many of your child’s daily activities—like getting dressed, eating, and writing—require control of small muscles in the hands. We call these skills fine motor skills. Your child can do more things for himself when he has opportunities to practice these skills.



Your 4-year-old is likely making great strides toward independence as he learns to complete certain tasks solo. As he masters new skills, it can be difficult not to hover and offer assistance, especially since a five-second chore all too often transforms into a 10-minute endeavor when young kids are left to their own devices.


Like many parents, you may be wondering what developmental milestones await you and your four-year-old, particularly as you anticipate kindergarten in the not-so-distant future. Although every child develops at his or her own unique pace, here are some of the key milestones you might notice.


Reading Development


Understands the idea of what a word is in print — and that words and sentences are read from left to right. Holds a book correctly and turns pages front to back.


Has memorized some favorite books and can recite them along with you. Language Development On average, a 4-year-old knows about 1,500 words, but don’t start counting! If your child’s vocabulary is increasing — and she shows an interest in learning and using new words — They are on track.


Physical Development

Can walk heel-to-toe and run

May be able to climb jungle gyms at the playground (but needs close supervision!)

Can kick a ball

Can stand on one foot for four or five seconds


As the parent of a 4-year-old, you should:

Encourage and provide space for physical activity.

Show your child how to participate in and follow the rules of sporting activities. Encourage play and sharing with other children.

Encourage creative play.

Teach your child to do small chores, such as setting the table.

Read together.


Every child is different and may develop at different rates.


So, if your child does not do some of these things, they may be ‘working’ on a different area of learning and development. However, children usually follow the same pattern of development, and it’s good to feel that your child is developing normally, in their own unique way. If you are worried about your child’s development, or if they are very different from other children, talk with your doctor or child health nurse. If there is a problem, it’s better to get help early.