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What Are the Milestones for a 4- to 5-Year-Old Child?

Children who are four to five years of age may discover independence, creativity, self-confidence and self-control. Milestones for a 4- to 5-year-old child include milestones in fine and gross motor skills and cognitive, emotional, social, communication and language and creative development.

Children who are four to five years of age may discover independence, creativity, self-confidence and self-control. The ability to express feelings and emotions also develops markedly. Growing from a baby to a child requires achieving many milestones in language, physical, social, emotional and intellectual development. Most children develop skills in roughly the same order, but the actual age when a child achieves a milestone can vary from child to child. As your child continues to grow, you will notice their new abilities. While children may grow at different rates, the following are some of the common milestones a child may reach in this age group.

Physical development: Small/fine motor skills:

  • Holds paper in place with one hand while writing with the other
  • Cuts with scissors (under adult supervision) along a thick, straight line
  • Draws recognizable pictures
  • Draws or copies shapes
  • Ties shoelaces
  • Can use a fork and spoon
  • Dresses, undresses and brushes the teeth with little help

Physical development: Large/gross motor skills:

  • Balances on one foot for five to 10 seconds
  • Jumps over a stationary rope held six inches above the ground
  • Pedals a tricycle around obstacles and sharp corners
  • Catches a ball in their hands with arms flexed
  • Hops around on one foot without support
  • Walks backward
  • Throws a ball with accuracy
  • Can stand on one foot for around nine to 10 seconds

Cognitive development:

  • Draws pictures of the sun, animals, trees, flowers, etc.
  • Counts to 10 by rote
  • Stacks 10 or more blocks
  • Names pictures that have been hidden
  • Comprehends the concept of opposites
  • Works a 12-piece (or larger) puzzle
  • Draws a two-part (or three-part) person
  • Counts four or more objects
  • Identifies four colors when named
  • Identifies shapes
  • Extends sentences logically

Social development:

  • Asks for help when needed
  • Engages in cooperative play with small groups of children frequently
  • Pays attention to stories for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Says “please” and “thank you” without reminders
  • Joins in mealtime conversations
  • Initiates friendships with peers
  • Plays interactive games
  • Plays with peers with minimal conflict
  • Interacts with adults in a cooperative, socially appropriate manner
  • Asks permission to use items belonging to others

Emotional development:

  • Begins developing a sense of humor
  • Shows increasing levels of positive interactions and friendliness in small-group settings
  • Responds to a specific need/desire when expressed by another child
  • Verbalizes and is comfortable expressing a wider variety of emotions
  • Openly and warmly expresses affection to other children
  • Comforts other children
  • Is able to return to equilibrium after experiencing stress
  • Exhibits concerns for fairness in what happens to others by sharing and/or taking turns
  • Has greater attention span

Communication and language development:

  • Follows three-step directions without distraction
  • Demonstrates understanding of the differences between “is” and “is not” by pointing to objects
  • Uses possessive forms of nouns
  • Uses a series of conjunctions
  • Averages at least five-word sentences in conversations
  • Describes items and/or objects in books
  • Speech is clear and can be understood by others
  • Understands future tense
  • Understands yes and no and start and stop

Creative development:

  • Assigns roles or takes assigned roles during a play
  • Takes on characteristics and actions while playing a role
  • Uses language to create and sustain plots during a play
  • Uses elaborate themes, ideas and details during a play
  • Likes to make up words

Consider the following ways to foster your preschool child’s social abilities.

  • Offer compliments for good behavior and achievements.
  • Encourage your child to talk to you and be open with their feelings.
  • Read to your child, sing songs and talk with them.
  • Spend quality time with your child and show them new experiences.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions and explore.
  • Encourage physical activity with supervision.
  • Arrange times for your child to be with other children such as in play groups.
  • Give your child the chance to make choices when appropriate.
  • Use time-out for behavior that is not acceptable.
  • Encourage your child to express their anger in an appropriate manner.
  • Limit television watching (or other screen time) to one to two hours a day. Use free time for other, more productive, activities.

As for all age groups, parents ought to spend quality and quantity time with their children. Physical activities need to be encouraged and gadget time should be reduced. This is also time to develop social skills by encouraging your child to play with other children.

Medically Reviewed on 6/25/2021


WebMD: “4- to 5-Year-Olds: Developmental Milestones.”

CHOC: “Child Development Guide: 4 to 5 Years (Preschool).”

Healthy Western Australia: “Child Development 4–5 Years.”

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