Development at 4-5 years

Personal and Social Skills    30999571_xl

  • Plays with other children cooperatively
  • Explores gender roles (mommy/daddy) and community helper roles (firefighter, shop keeper)
  • Understands limits and defines them for others
  • Respects authority, though may still test limits
  • Participates in group games
  • Chooses own friends
  • Is sensitive about teasing
  • Likes silly jokes
  • Dresses, toilets, and eats independently


  • Provide opportunities for role playing and pretending discourage violent play).
  • Group same-age children together or invite a child of similar age for a “play date” to encourage cooperative play.
  • Teach simple games (Duck, Duck, Goose).
  • Allow child to help set limits. (“How many turns will each child get?”)
  • Help child develop strategies for solving social problems. (“Use words, not hitting”; “what else could you do?” “What will you say next time?”)

Language and Understanding Skills

  • Asks questions to gain information (Why…?, How…?)
  • Understand routines and can tell what activity comes first or next in a sequence
  • Plays with language, making up nonsense words
  • Answer questions about stories and retells stories with assistance
  • Joins sentences together


  • Read storybooks to child.
  • Ask child questions about stories and have child retell stories.
  • Encourage child to act out stories from books or imagination and use different voices for the character.
  • Engage child in what if games to encourage child’s own storytelling (“What if you could fly….)
  • Expand the range of computer software available to child.
  • Arrange trips to the library, zoo, and special events such as parades.
  • Play rhyming games with child. (“Can you say three words that rhyme with cat?)

Small Muscle (Fine Motor) Skills

  • Cuts on a line
  • Copies shapes
  • Prints a few letters
  • Draws to represent objects
  • Builds symmetrical structures with blocks
  • Makes sculptures with nontoxic modeling clay


  • Provide building toys such as blocks.
  • Offer child a variety of surfaces to write on (construction paper, envelope, chalkboard, cardboard).
  • Encourage child to represent objects and activities through drawing.
  • Provide nontoxic modeling clay, sand, and paper and glue.
  • Limit number of different objects child may use at one time.

Large Muscle (Gross Motor) Skills

  • Walks backwards
  • Walks up and down stairs without help, alternating feet
  • Hops
  • Begins to skip
  • Kicks a ball accurately
  • Turns somersaults
  • Follows movement directions (“Put your hand on your head, take two giant steps, then turn around.”)


  • Let child help design obstacle course (balance beams, chairs to climb over, table to crawl under, see saws).
  • Roll and pass large plastic hoops to each other.
  • Organize a noncompetitive kick ball game.
  • Take child to playground to practice climbing, balancing, and other movement activities.
  • Play Simon Says, including challenging movements.
  • Skip with child from the house to the car.
  • Encourage child to practice walking backwards.

Play music for dancing and provide musical instruments child can play while dancing or marching.