The Fourth Year

The Fourth Year

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care – NNCC. Powell, J. and Smith, C.A. (1994). The 4th year. In *Developmental milestones: A guide for parents*. Manhattan, KS: Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service.

By 4 years of age does the child:

Motor Skills

  • feed herself (with little spilling)
  • try to use a fork
  • hold a pencil
  • try to write name
  • draw with the arm and not small hand movements
  • draw a circle
  • draw a face
  • try to cut paper with blunt scissors
  • sometimes unbutton buttons
  • try to buckle, button, and lace, even though she probably needs help
  • completely undress herself if wearing clothes with simple fasteners
  • brush teeth with help
  • build a tower of 7-9 blocks
  • put together a simple puzzle of 4-12 pieces
  • pour from a small pitcher
  • use the toilet alone
  • try to skip
  • catch a bouncing ball
  • walk downstairs using a handrail and alternating feet
  • swing, starting by himself and keeping himself going

Sensory and Thinking Skills

  • recognize red, yellow, and blue
  • understand taking turns and can do so without always being reminded
  • understand “big,” “little,” “tall,” “short”
  • want to know what will happen next
  • sort by shape or color
  • count up to 5 objects
  • follow three instructions given at one time (“Put the toys away, wash your hands, and come eat.”)
  • distinguish between the real world and the imaginary or pretend world
  • identify situations that would lead to happiness, sadness, or anger

Language and Social Skills

  • have a large vocabulary and use good grammar often
  • often talk about action in conversation (“go,” “do,” “make”)
  • enjoy rhyming and nonsense words
  • use regular past tenses of verbs (“pulled,” “walked”)
  • use “a,” “an,” and “the” when speaking
  • ask direct questions (“May I?” “Would you?”)
  • want explanations of “why” and “how”
  • relate a simple experience she has had recently
  • understand “next to”
  • separate from his parent for a short time without crying
  • help clean up toys at home or school when asked to
  • like to play “dress up”
  • pretend to play with imaginary objects
  • act out elaborate events which tell a story (as in serving an imaginary dinner or going on a “dragon hunt”)
  • sometimes cooperate with other children
  • often prefer playing with other children to playing alone, unless deeply involved in a solitary task
  • change the rules of a game as he goes along
  • try to bargain (“I’ll give you this toy if you’ll give me that one”)
  • share when asked
  • enjoy tag, hide-and-seek and other games with simple rules
  • like moderate “rough and tumble” play
  • like to do things for himself
  • know her age and the town where she lives
  • act as though a doll or stuffed animal thinks and feels on its own