If the first two years of children’s development stand for the basic physical development and establishment of loving relationships with parents and caregivers (check the STAGES OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT (Part 1) article for more information on children from birth till 2 years old), the next period, associated with the pre-school and school times, is all about their creativity, imagination, and personality milestones.
This period marks the beginning of a toddler’s most imaginative years. Children at this age will love playing games of make-believe, but their tremendous imaginations can lead to irrational fears, like the fear of the dark or the concerns of monsters living under the bed. In this year, there are also great advancements in speech: by now the toddler knows between 500 and 900 words, and transitions from two- and three-word sentences to four- and five-word sentences. Three-year-olds are naturally active, so providing toddlers with the opportunity to do meaningful and physical activities is especially important. Fortunately, at this point toddlers learn to share, take turns, play compatibility with other children, and act appropriately in public, throwing fewer temper tantrums.
Fine motor skills and gross motor skills continue to improve quickly at this age, as well as intellectual abilities and awareness of the outside world. Children at this age can use stairs independently, pull up zippers, and learn to tie shoes and construct sentences between four and eight words long. Their speech should be understandable, as they like to talk frequently and can carry conversations to some degree. Five-year-olds know certain details such as their address and phone number, as well as the days of the week and the name of the months. Children in this age range still navigate the world awkwardly and have trouble following rules and commands. Playing sports and yard games such as Freeze Tag and “Duck, Duck, Goose” helps with confidence and mobility. In these preschool years, four-year-olds tend to be moody, selfish, and aggressive at family members, and five-year-olds tend to be more cooperative and obedient, eager to please others. They also develop a more significant attachment to their parents as a result of going to school and being exposed to a more daunting environment there.
Children at this age grow more independent and pursue their interests. They like to draw and paint, commit to activities they enjoy, ride bikes, and read age-appropriate books. They are also able to tell time, carry out commands that contain three separate steps, and compute addition and subtraction problems.
After this, children develop quickly. They can create “masterpieces” in literature or art, they develop their own opinions and know how to explain their positions. They become independent, and therefore, separating from their parents, teenagers spend more time with friends, start dating, and, later, have their own families.
Children grow up fast and it is important not to miss any stage of their development, support them in every step they make and at any road they choose and be the family they will always want to come back to.