Stages of Development in a Preschool Aged Child

According to The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program, a preschool child is between the age of three and five years old. At this time, the preschool child may acquire certain skills referred to as developmental milestones. These skills involve physical, emotional, social and cognitive abilities. How Kids Develop suggests that a developmental milestone is a skill that a child acquires within a particular time frame. All children do not develop at the same rate. Examples of developmental milestones or skills children acquire as they get older are the ability to ride a bicycle or recite poems.

Preschoolers are between three and five years old. (Image: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images)

Fine Motor Skills

These skills involve the use of a child’s smaller muscles such as his fingers or hands. The preschooler should be able to hold a crayon and draw circles, squares and triangles. He should also have the ability to button and zip or unzip his clothes.

Gross Motor Skills

The gross motor skills of a preschool child include being able to go up a staircase with alternate steps-- that is putting one foot on each step as he climbs up, instead of both feet on one step, throw and catch a ball, hop, climb and skip, pedal a bicycle and jump over low obstacles. To perform gross motor skills, a child uses his large muscles.

Speech and Language Development

A child’s speech and language development refers to her ability to not only understand language when spoken to but also to use language for communication. The preschooler uses a minimum of 250 words, can say three-word sentences and understands plurals. She is also inquisitive and asks lots of questions, knows the names of different colors and can recite familiar songs, poems or stories from memory.

Cognitive Development

Cognitive development, or intellectual development, involves a child’s ability solve problems, learn, reason and think. The preschooler can participate in conversations and begins to develop his reasoning skills. He also knows his age and address, can identify the heavier of two objects and can name the days of the week. At this age, a child can tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. He also knows the names of different shapes. Preschoolers may not be able to differentiate reality from fantasy.

Social and Emotional Development

A child’s ability to control her emotions, interact with others and help herself is an indicator of his social and emotional development. A preschooler can follow simple rules during games, she may approach other children and begin to play with them and enjoys playing make-believe games. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, preschoolers between the age of four and five years old show increased self-confidence and independence and may visit a next-door neighbor alone.

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