Waht should he know by four years old?

rob333November 20, 2002

Hello! First time posting here, but jumping right in.

I have a son who just turned three. He is not in any sort of school/daycare, so I don't have a chance to compare. What sorts of things should he be able to do by four? Dressing himself? Counting to ?50? Thanks!


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My daughter is in preschool, and can count to 50 easily, has been dressing herself for a while, colors, shapes, eye-hand coordination with art projects, alphabet (capital and lowercase letters), some phonics and spelling, counting items and adding them together visually, sorting, pattern recognition, and many other skills.

They should follow directions very well by this age, and carry out tasks given to them.

Basic rule of thumb: Never assume they CANT do something, and then let them have a go at it. They may not do things as fast as we'd like, or as neatly (example, making the bed). But they should be very independent at this age. They only can learn by trying. Treat them like little scientists testing out hypotheses. You and I may know that a rubber ducky floats on water, yet a rock sinks. But they have to try it, and prove it to themselves, to know it.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2002 at 2:48PM
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Preschool, hm, what age is that?

    Bookmark   November 21, 2002 at 8:30AM
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She's 4. I mentioned preschool because you said your child wasn't in preschool, and I wanted to clarify that mine was, for comparison sake.

Wouldn't have answered if the age were not similar.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2002 at 9:51AM
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I am sorry, I just haven't any idea what age preschoolers would be. Sounds like he's on track and its good to know; I appreciate it.


    Bookmark   November 21, 2002 at 10:07AM
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Have you considered sending your child to preschool/nursery school? It really does make a difference. I've seen it in my niece as compared to other kids who haven't gone to school.

At home we don't always have the time or pateince to work on everything & this is can make a big difference before starting kindergarten where already the pressure begins.

Preschool is also a good transiton with being out of the house & separation anxiety issues to be dealt with a little bit earlier. Some kids can't get used to a full day o fkindergarten if they haven't already learned the routine of going to school & the hrs., etc.
Preschool is great for socializaiton skills, plus the way they learn is through play so it's fun for them too! It also gives parents some time away from the child so they can better appreciate them when they're home.

Good luck


    Bookmark   November 21, 2002 at 12:25PM
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Yes, we're too poor. Socialization is the reason I want to.

Of the things TREKaren mentioned, he can:
-dress himself
-eye-hand coordination with art projects,
-alphabet (capital and lowercase letters) spelling and some phonics
-counting items
-sorting, pattern recognition, and many other skills

the other things he is in the process of learning:
-finish learning numbers up to 100 (for me)
-adding them together visually
-couple of languages are next, we are deciding still. DH lived in Germany, so German and either French, which I have had several years of school experience, not real life, or Spanish which would provide more use at this point.

Unfortunately, neither daycare nor preschool probably would teach the languages, so I have to get that done before we scrape the money together to get his illness period and socializtion skills in place. It is highly important, just can't do it yet. Thanks for the advice/info.


    Bookmark   November 21, 2002 at 12:59PM
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I know many churches offer very very cheap nursery programs that might work for you.

I don't understand what you mean by getting $ together to get his illness period in place.

I think introducing languages is a great thing too. There are many videos & toys another market but plain ole conversation works best. You can probeably find books & videos in thr library for rent too. I too want my daughter to learn Spanish. My parents are Cuban & although my 1st language was Spanish we no longer speak it to each other - just family on phone conversations. My husband doesn't speak it so it would be difficutl to introduce it. I have with games & have researched a class which she can't start until age 3.

Good luck Robin


    Bookmark   November 21, 2002 at 6:25PM
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No wonder you don't understand, words are missing!

We have to get money scraped together so that we can send him to day care, not only to be able to pay for daycare, but also when we lose income from not working, because he's ill (most children will be ill a great part of the first year). But, he will learn socialization skills while he's there, so we have to do it.

Daycare isn't a necessity in our case, its a luxury, for now.

Don't know what I was thinking!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2002 at 6:55PM
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WHY on earth are you PUSHING your THREE YEAR OLD to do so much? Sheesh!! Let him be a child for awhile longer. Don't you think that 12 years of school plus college is enough? He should be playing in the park and finger painting instead of learning how to count to 100. Push him too much and you risk having problems with school later. Let him learn all that stuff in first grade not at home. Besides once he starts school he'll be bored because that's what he's going to learn. He's only 3 for goodness sake!! Let him enjoy his tender years, he'll certainly have to work hard enough later.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2002 at 10:55AM
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I know you say you have antecdotal evidence about some illness period. But my goodness it's not THAT bad. Most kids get 4 or 5 cold-type illnesses a year, with maybe one or two of those involving a fever. Depends on the day care, too. I have always been lucky to be in classes where the other parents keep the kids home when they ought to (fever, etc) and where the daycare operators enforce the sick policy.

The good policy enforcement, and some good hygeine teaching on the part of you will prevent most ordinary illnesses. DD knew excellent hand-washing early on. Barney tapes have several episodes that discuss good handwashing and teach good sing-along songs to enforce the habit.

There is no child I know of who is out "a great part of the first year". If they are out enough to put your job in jeopardy, then something is wrong medically with the child or hygeinically with the daycare. Mine had severe allergies, and wasn't out extraordinary amounts of time.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2002 at 5:37PM
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Nookie, he picks the flashcards and excitedly says, "let's do numbers", I would hardly call that pushing. Besides, I am stay at home mom so I get to spend many hours, doing many fun things, I am just blessed he likes to learn things along the way (like fingerpainting letters, or coloring shapes, its works for me and my son to combine learning and fun).

TREKaren, it is good to know, I have been dreading that part of it. I think all the rest of it will be great for him, since he loves interaction with people and learning. Actually, I hadn't thought of it, but he is a huggy-touchy kinda guy so I bet that's how he gets ill so easily. Any suggestions to cross that hurdle will be really helpful.

Thanks for your concern, and suggestions.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2002 at 6:12PM
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I would like to say that the pediatrician's guidelines are a good point of origin, but are not the rule. Go to the parentcenter website and see the milestones for 3-4 yr olds.
I think that all children have strong points where they accellerate, and weak points where they tend to meander.
My son is 4. He spells his name, dresses himself (sometimes), brushes his teeth, uses the potty (but still has accidents), shares (not consistently), talks very well and can carry on a conversation. He remembers the words to songs and sings beautifully. He can play games with other players, ride a bicycle with training wheels, and he seems to be better able to control his emotions than last year.
He has successfully put the night lite away and can get his own drinks and snacks. He remembers to rewind the videos and most of all, he tells me he loves me, thanks me and says your welcome, bless you (good manners). He is ready for kindergarten next year, he can't wait. He goes to preschool.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2002 at 10:39AM
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Jainie, great answer! Thank you for your kindess, answer and your link; I really appreciate it.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2002 at 11:18AM
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Wow, it all sounds good. Continue to encourage the music aspect. This helps in so many areas of learning, such as memory. It also will lay a good foundation for future learning, like math, because of the rhythms learned. Does not have to be elaborate. Just encourage the enjoyment of making any kind of music, be it singing, drumming, listening to music, whatever.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2002 at 2:35PM
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Sometimes one thing that is overlooked in getting the young child ready is basic information about the family. It is surprising to know the children that can count, color, etc. but don't know the full names of their parents. Mommy or Daddy just isn't enough. Also, they should know the full names of grandparents and any close relatives. If grandparents live out of town, where do they live? Information like that gives the child sense of being part of the bigger world.

Think about teaching things about where you shop, and why you go there. Where does Mommy or Daddy work? What kind of work does he or she do?

I know it varies in different areas, but here, Kindergarten is part of the required school program and is free. The Pre-kindegarten program is also state supported, but not manditory. Anything earlier than that is considered pre-school.

I would not worry about what he is learning. It sounds as if you are 'way ahead of the game. Keep up the good work.

Your local YMCA or Library may have children's programs that would allow more socializing. They are usually free or very inexpensive. A lot of churches sponser "Mother's Morning Out" type programs that are not just for the members, but for a nominal fee, allow the child access to being with other children without the mother in attendence.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2002 at 10:04AM
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As far as the languages go - I have friends where one spouse knows a foreign language and the other doesn't. So the spouse who knows speaks to the children entirely in that language, and the spouse who doesn't speaks entirely in English. Seems to work well, and the kids do learn both languages.

The tapes and videotapes mean little for real language learning, but the conversation works wonders.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2002 at 12:18PM
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I agree with Janie. Manners are extremely important to me (us). I was blessed with a very advanced first DS who had all the basics covered plus some, but his manners are impeccable. Now I'm working with DS #2 who is 2 and he's not quite as advanced as his brother but he still consistently says "bless you", "apple juice, please", "thank you", etc. IMHO, I personally think manners are severely lacking in many young people today. I mean, realistically they will *all* learn how to count, how to distinguish shapes, how to write, etc., at school. Manners mostly must be emphasized at home and it's blatantly apparent to me which kids in DS #1's kindergarten class have no concept of courtesy.


    Bookmark   December 24, 2002 at 5:10PM
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I had a friend who used to push her daughter into learning everything possible while she was this age. She always had to be 1 step ahead of her peers. As she got older a B on her report card was not good enough, she needed to get A's. My daughter was the same age and I never pushed her to learn anything. I wanted her to have fun and be a child. As she grew older I was happy with C's if she tried her best in school. Later in High School my friends daughter dropped out of school, got pregnant and is living with her parents today. My daughter went on to college and is a teacher today and loves it. 3 years ago I had another daughter and I am enjoying as much as I can at this age. If she wants to learn something great, but if she does not still great. She is very social and loves to be around other kids. I will not send her to school until she is 4. They have enough school in their lives. Anyways this is just my experience. Seems today so many people are pushing there kids into everything and they will explode eventually. everything happens in time.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 1:14PM
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While I appreciate all of the advice given, it may be time for an update for those who may be in the same boate as I was.

Actually, he ended up doing poorly in preschool until we found one that challenged him. It taught him French, weird science, music, and had parades through the school. Just playing wasn't enough for him. It still isn't. It's not his pace to just sit and play in the dirt. He wants to know what the differences are between silt and limestone, sand and obsidian. It's always been him. I've never pushed him and only when he got what he needed and wanted did he become happy. He ended up being a kindergartener who was able to read and do things on a 3rd grade level. So he was just plain bored whenever I tried to follow the boxed advice, "just let him be a kid" as though learning was never a part of childhood.

Not everyone is pushing when the child wants to do more. He was bored and other kids can be too. It's cliche that intelligent children are bored for a reason.

Let the child choose should be the motto.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 1:38PM
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