Child Growth and Development for 4 Year Olds

We have discussed child growth and development for infants and toddlers, now it's time for the 4 year old. This is such a fun age to have in your home daycare! They are so imaginative, not to mention ENERGETIC! There are days where I wish I could bottle some of it so I can keep up with them!

I have cared for lots of four year olds, and from my experiences I have learned this about child growth and development:

- They will love to tell you jokes- and they will tell you the same one over and over and over again- so be prepared to laugh even when you don't want to or when the joke makes NO SENSE what-so-ever... Maybe a good time to teach them some new ones to try out on mom and dad!

- Love to show you what they can do- at this stage of child growth and development they are ready for new adventures, and most times at FULL SPEED! Be careful of this, they certainly will try some tricks (like jumping out of a swing, or off of playground equipment) and they are not aware of some of the dangers involved - keep a close eye on them!

- They have very vivid imaginations and sometimes get things a little confused as to what is real and what is "make-believe" or "pretend".

kids playingl child  growth and development

- They love to use silly words and will laugh at goofy stuff. They also will test you with "bad words" (possibly profanity). They will say these things to see if you are paying attention or what you will say...They are TESTING YOU! I would recommend that you discuss how you should handle this with their parents and be on the same page with them. And please DO PAY ATTENTION.
You don't want all your kids going home swearing like sailors and then try explaining where they learned it from to their parents!!! Talk about challenging child growth and development!

- They love to imitate others and sometimes older siblings or influences- from you, to their parents, t.v. characters,friends from preschool, family, etc. They are definitely developing independence!

What you can expect for PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT.

At this stage of Child Growth and Development for a 4 year old expect that:

- They can feed themselves skillfully with a spoon, fork and use a table knife (However, I do not give them knives at my child care home).

ring around the rosy

- They can run, skip, hop and jump around all sorts of things very easily and quite quickly! They can also jump over things 5-6" high.

- They can hop on 1 foot, climb with ease (keep in mind that they aren't aware of the danger!) do somersaults, do some seriously fun dance moves, gallop, and walk a straight line.

- They can peddle and steer a tricycle easily.

- They can throw a ball with skill, catch it and bounce it as well.

- Stack blocks or objects ... at least 10, but usually a LOT more!

- Can wash and dress themselves, unzip and unbutton, get their shoes on- some can tie, brush their hair and teeth. This child growth and development makes our lives a little easier!

- Are able to thread little beads on a string.

- Make objects and shapes out of play dough/clay. I've seen some pretty amazing animal/people shapes!

- Need 10-12 hours of sleep at night... Well after all of this activity, they should be tired!!!


The Next Stage of Child Growth and Development for our 4 year olds is Intellectual Development:

- They will recognize some- if not all letters- and may be able to write their name.

- They may be familiar with certain words they've seen in books or signs, advertisements or t.v. commercials.

- They can place items in a line from smallest to largest or vise-verse.

- They know what "same, more, tallest, biggest, on, in, under, and above" all mean.

- They can talk in pretty complex sentences. Quite an amazing child growth and development in 4 years!

- Ask a ton of questions... who, what, when, where, and the dreaded "why" question. Sometimes you wonder if they'll ever stop!!! But if they don't ask, how are they going to learn???

- They can name 6-8 colors (many times more than that) and know at least 3 shapes.

- They have routines figured out. They know that you have breakfast first, then lunch, then nap-time, then snack time, etc.

kids with puzzle

- Really love to sing, dance, and do fun rhymes and again, say silly words.

- Typically has a long attention span and should be able to finish an activity lasting 10-15 minutes.

- They can count out 7 objects- but not always in the right order.

- Seem to understand colors, textures, distance, size, and time.

- Can follow a couple of unrelated directions: "Put your toy in the tote then go get your shoes".

- Will know their name, address, and phone number if you or their parents teach them.

- Remembers their accomplishments and are proud of them and will tell you about them many times.

Our last stage of Child Growth and Development for 4 year olds... Social and Emotional Development:

- Love to tattle on others. (stinkers!)

- Love to play with other kids.

- Will look for your approval.

- When you give them simple rules, they are able to understand them and follow them... but may not WANT to.

- Like to "change" the rules as they go along to fit their needs. You'll know, because the other 4 year olds will tattle on them!

- They get jealous.

- Like to imitate their parent of the same sex, especially when they are playing. They love role playing and dramatic play- and not just "house". They may be at school, a doctor, a restaurant, etc.

- When they are frustrated they will still throw a tantrum now and then. boy in tantrum - Like to test the waters and shock you, and others, by saying "bad" words or calling others names.

- Will tell lies, but they really don't understand that is what they are doing. It's usually to help them or their friend stay out of trouble. Then you may get quite an imaginative story as to what happened! (a child growth and development you hope they grow out of!)

- They love to talk- be ready for elaborate conversations!

- Will ask you "WHY???" about a million times... OK, so I am exaggerating, but some days it sure SEEMS like it!

- When they get mad, they yell instead of hitting someone--- that is, MOST of the time. Be prepared just in-case! They can feel strong anger and frustration. You will need lots of patients for this normal child growth and development stage.

- They can be little braggers! Especially when it comes to their stuff. They also like to show off.

- They are starting to learn what is dangerous- like bad storms. Sometimes they get pretty scared.

- It is hard for them to know the difference between make-believe and real. This is particularly true when it comes to monsters.

- As I mentioned, they have wonderfully vivid imaginations, which sometimes leads to imaginary friends.

What YOU can do to promote the child growth and development of the 4 year olds you care for:

* Read to them daily and have books, magazines, catalogs, newspaper ads, etc. available for them to look at on their own.

* Keep paper or notebooks with pencils, crayons, or markers accessible for them to write with. Label your shelves with pictures and words that describe what goes there. I also made a poster with photos all of my daycare kids and their names next to their picture. They will learn what letters everyone's names start with. Hang some posters with alphabet letters at their eye level.

* Have a wide variety of art supplies available for painting, cutting, gluing, etc. I like having different string, yarn, fabric, pictures from magazines, and wallpaper scraps for collages. Make up some play-dough for making those fun animals and people!

* When the opportunity is there, count or sort things! For example; When you make lunch, count the plates you are setting out, or the silverware, or the number of toys the kids are picking up... You get the idea. Four year olds will mimic what you do and learn from it!
* Another learning opportunity for them- Everyday you can talk about things being "in, out, over, under, bigger, behind, beside", etc. Talk about what you're doing.

* Remember how they look for you for approval? They need to feel important- Let them know they did a great job listening, or that you like that he/she used their walking feet. Give them ways to experience some freedom and independence (safely).

* Encourage physical child growth and development by setting up obstacle courses where they have to crawl, climb, balance, or jump. See if they can walk with a beanbag on their head without dropping it. Play follow the leader or do simple exercises,like jumping jacks, with them- I guarantee you'll have lots of fun and laughter!

child in play castel

* Put up a bird feeder - talk about the different kinds of seeds you fill it with, and what kinds of birds that it attracts. You could look them up in books or on the internet. You will help them learn respect for nature, living things and life. And since I mentioned seeds... You could have them help you plan and plant a small garden or some flower seeds. They love watering the seeds and seeing them sprout and grow.

* Have lots of fun props for their dramatic play. See our Toddler Activities page for more articles on child development and ideas that are simple and free!

* Do several rhymes and finger-plays together. Repetition inspires memory and learning. You could ask them to read or tell stories to the younger children in your daycare. This will build their confidence as well as direct some of their unending energy in a positive way!

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