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4 years old


Make-believe play fills your preschooler’s days, and the first true friendships begin to develop as social skills improve. You’ll find ideas here to help your four-year-old exercise problem-solving skills, get the most out of imaginative play, and even meet new physical challenges.

    Learn to swim, skate, dance, ski and bounce on a trampoline
    Have a longer attention span for engaging in new activities
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How your 4-year-old might play now:

With a longer attention span, a new activity can keep him engaged for extended periods

She can learn to swim, skate, dance, ski and bounce on a trampoline

He can explain something that happened when you weren't there

She begins to grasp that people have different experiences and feelings than she does

As coordination improves, he can use the monkey bars at the playground, walk along a curb, and dodge when he's chased

She is starting to add details to her drawings

He may print his name on his artwork

Her gait is more grown-up

Children develop at their own pace and reach milestones at different times. The highlights mentioned in this website are approximate guidelines only. If you have any questions about your child's development, consult your healthcare provider.

Toys and Playtips

Help your child learn more:
  • Experiment. Help your child try out all the different things a toy does. Notice which activities she seems most comfortable with. Repeating things again and again is a normal part of learning.
  • New and different. Expose your child to a wide range of topics. If she takes an interest in a particular subject, get related books and videos from the library or search the internet for facts about it.
  • Is it round? Give your child's budding reasoning skills a boost with a junior version of "Twenty Questions." Think of a person, place or thing and have him ask you Yes or No questions to discover what it is. "I'm thinking of something we ate for lunch today." ("Is it round? Is it red? Is it crunchy?") Reverse roles so he answers the questions.
  • That’s my name! Show where the letters of her name are on a computer keyboard and let her type them. Print it out and post it on the fridge. In time she'll recognize the individual letters and see how they're grouped to form her name.
  • Let’s play. Find age-appropriate games on children's websites. Using the keyboard can improve your child's fine-motor skills, which he'll use a lot in kindergarten.
Help your child learn more:

Use historic reference. You can teach important lessons using imagination-based figures or ones from another era, like pirates, treasure hunters or dinosaurs.

Tell me a story. Ask your child to tell you about what he's pretending, encouraging thinking, language and communication skills. "Tell me a story about what happened today."

What’s happening? Let your child create his own story by taking pictures of toys in different play situations. Spread the pictures out in front of your child and ask him to put them into a story sequence: "What happened first?" "Then what happened?" Continue until your child has sorted through the photos and come up with the framework of a story that has a beginning, middle and end.

Help your child learn more:

Everyday fun. Create a challenging roadway for your child's vehicles using everyday objects. Let him race his cars through paper towel "tunnels," roll them to the top of pillow "mountains" and maneuver them over a broom's bristles.

Be an announcer. Watch a short car race on TV. Instead of relying on the speedway announcer, turn the sound off and take turns calling the action!

All about safety. Turn an outing into a lesson in vehicle safety. Take a walk on a city sidewalk and point out the road signs and signals. Explain what they mean, and why it's important for motorists to obey them.

Help your child learn more:

Safe and sure. Make sure the area your child is riding in is not only safe, but also big enough to make turns. Always directly supervise your child and remind her of the do's and don'ts of safe riding (do watch where you're going; don't go near the street; don't go out of the driveway).

Practice makes perfect. Set up an obstacle course with traffic cones or kid-sized road signs you've made together. Tell your child about some of the basic traffic symbols, and point out real road signs as you're driving together.

Set the stage. Offer props to help make this ride-on part of your child's bigger, imaginative play schemes. For example, if he's pretending to be a rescue worker riding to the scene of an emergency, remind him of his firefighter's hat, pretend badge, or special jacket that may add to the look.

Taking turns. If your child is sharing the vehicle with a sibling or friend, a timer can be a helpful, impartial "announcer" when it's someone else's turn to drive.

Parking spot. Find a safe place for your child to "park" his vehicle in your garage or shed, with the responsibility to return it there when he's done driving.