Development at
4 Years

What Your Child Should Be Doing

  • Can follow three unrelated directions without help.  Ex:  “run, jump, and sit.”
  • Follows verbal directions (no pointing) using the words under, over, and between.
  • Sorts objects by color.
  • Catches a ball with two hands.
  • Climbs ladder up to a slide and slides down.
  • Walks on tiptoe.
  • Can do a forward somersault.
  • Can compare things: heavy vs. light, soft vs. hard, hot vs. cold, bigger vs. smaller.
  • Recites rhymes or sings songs from memory.
  • Can talk about past and future, and use past- and future tense language.
  • Uses names of things and action words.
  • Acts out simple stories.
  • Can button large buttons.
  • Can put coat or jacket on hanger.
  • Puts on boots and mittens.
  • Eats an entire meal without help.
  • Serves own food.  Ex: Can scoop food from serving bowl onto plate.
  • Can use toilet without help.
  • Wakes up dry a couple of times per week.
  • Can brush teeth when reminded.
  • Answers questions like “What do you do when you’re hungry (tired, thirsty)?” appropriately.
  • Speaks in complete sentences, including words like “a”, “the”, “is” and “are”.
  • Can copy simple shapes onto a large piece of paper with a crayon or pencil, (no tracing).
  • Draws people with at least three of these: head, hair, eyes, nose, mouth, neck, trunk, arms, legs, hands, feet.
  • Cuts paper in half with a fairly straight line, using child-safe scissors.
  • Correctly identifies five different colors.

How You Can Help

  • Play Simon Says, follow-the-leader, catch, tag and other games (builds motor skills and teaches following directions).
  • Introduce child to new things:  parks, zoos, museums, hiking, sports events, restaurants.
  • Help child anticipate what’s next: Prompt a few minutes ahead of time to wash hands before meals, pick up toys, etc.
  • Ask child to tell you about something (s)he’s done or experienced, or wants to do in future.
  • Discuss comparisons between things.
  • Continue to arrange for child to play with other children in small groups.  Teach how to take turns, share, and play cooperatively.
  • Read with child every day.  Encourage her to recite or act out parts (s)he knows.
  • Demonstrate to the child how to snap, button and zip.  Help him practice if he shows interest.
  • Provide opportunities for child to participate in music, make-believe or dramatic play.
  • Allow child to serve self at meals.
  • Model good language for children by using complete sentences and vocabulary aimed at or a little above their level of understanding.
  • Point out words on signs.  Put labels on things & help the child “read” the words.
  • Praise specific aspects of child’s drawings.
  • Provide a variety of creative materials and opportunities.  Supplies: blunt tip scissors, coloring books, paper, pencils, crayons, pipe cleaners, string, glitter, glue, large beads.
  • Make a game of identifying colors in the environment around you.