You may have survived the terrible twos and might be wondering what’s coming next. As your child is approaching their third birthday, you might be thinking about their developmental milestones and what should a three-year-old know.
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And to help you with just that, we’ve put together this little guide. It packs in all the information you need to know, and more. So let’s get this party started.
What Should a Three Year Old Know?
The age of three is an exciting time in the life of a child, as they are on their way to differentiating themselves from their parents and are viewing themselves as an actual individual.
It is during this age that they will learn a lot about themselves and the world around them, and learn many important physical, mental and emotional skills that will help them in the later years of their life.
They are able to communicate more effectively through language, start cooperating with others, gain social finesse, and show more independence day by day.
We know how crucial it is for children at this age to gain cognitive skills that will help them develop physically and emotionally. It is essential for parents to understand these milestones so they can encourage them accordingly.
What Shapes Should a Three Year Old Know
By three years of age, your child will be able to identify some basic shapes such as square, circle, rectangle, and triangle. They might also be able to identify the shapes of different objects and food and categorize them based on their shape.
This age is a good time to introduce your child to some other complex shapes like oval, heart, star, and diamond. While most of your child’s scribbles may not make sense, getting them involved in tracing activities will help sharpen their fine motor skills, and soon enough, you might start seeing some shapes on that sheet of paper.
What Words Should a Three Year Old Know
If your two-year-old did not seem to speak a lot, brace yourself, because things are about to change. Three-year-old children are usually able to say their name and age, when they are asked, answer questions, speak simple sentences that have five or six words to get the message across, and even tell stories at times.
Your three-year-old may now be able to take part in conversations when the topic interests them and even recognize and learn rhymes and songs easily, especially if there are actions involved.
They may also be able to follow simple instructions, and understand the difference between ‘same’ and ‘different.’
What Colors Should a Three Year Old Know
At the age of three years, your child should be able to point out a color when you ask them to, and before they are four, they should also be able to name a few colors. By adding color references in your child’s everyday communication, you can help your child pick up this skill easily.
You can also ask them to sort objects based on color and even set up some activities that involve using specific colors to paint specific areas, and even mixing colors together to make new colors.
Key Three Year Old Milestones Checklist
Children between 3-4 years of age should typically be able to meet these developmental milestones. It is important to remember that all children are different, and they may hit these milestones at different times.
- Your child can stack and build a tower of 8 – 10 blocks.
- They may have a vocabulary of 200+ words.
- They may be able to name their body parts- for example- hair, nose, eyes, shoulders.
- They may also be able to pour freely from container to container and transfer liquids from one container to another.
- They can construct simple sentences with 4-5 words, sometimes more.
- They will be able to run well enough to play games like tag with other children are encouraged to participate.
- They will be able to use words to express emotions and feelings rather than just acting them out.
- They may seek out new information daily and ask questions about anything that looks or feels unexpected.
- They are able to walk up the stairs alternating feet all the way up one flight, without help from an adult.
- They are able to identify where they are most of the time when outside familiar environments.
- They are also able to understand the concept of time.
- Children around three years of age can also count numbers and understand the idea behind counting.
- Most three-year-olds are also able to wash and dry their hands by themselves and flip the pages of a book.
Should a 3 Year Old Know the Alphabet?
Yes! By the time your child is three years of age, they will be able to remember and speak almost half of the letters of the alphabet. That’s not all. They may also start to link the letters to the sounds that they make.
By the time they are around their fourth birthday, they will likely have learned all the letters of the alphabet and can recite them in the correct order too.
Children learn language skills pretty quickly during this phase, which is why it is a good idea to read to your child as much as possible during this stage.
Your child will also now be able to understand some letters that are written down, and you might notice some of their scribbles may look like alphabets. That’s not all; children around this age will also be able to understand that letters and numbers have a different purpose.
To help sharpen your child’s alphabet learning skills, you can consider investing in a good quality magnetic letter board or any similar educational toy that teaches your child about letters, how to write them, and the sounds that they make.
You can also spend some time setting up alphabet-related activities for your child during this period.
Should a 3 Year Old Be Able to Recognize Numbers?
While 3-year-old children can understand and use both spoken language and body language to communicate, they do not have the same level of understanding when it comes to concepts revolving around math.
They may be able to count numbers up to 10 and even identify written numbers. In addition, they might also be able to hold up three fingers when someone asks them their age.
If they’ve received fewer cookies than their sibling, they’ll now be able to know.
Consider investing in some toys that have numbers written on them. Play is the best way to learn, and offering your child the opportunity to experience hands-on learning is the best way to teach them about numbers.
Another excellent way to encourage and promote your child’s math and number skills is to set up counting and sorting activities for them.
What Does a 3 Year Old’s Emotional Development Look Like?
Just like physical and mental development, emotional development too is important. So how do you know if your three-year-old is hitting all the milestones they should be, emotionally?
Well, in general, three years olds may be able to do both- express and understand powerful emotions like anger and fear. However, when it comes to detecting subtle ones, that might not be the case.
They may now show signs of independence and will be able to come up with solutions to conflicts. While they may not be able to distinguish between fantasy and reality just yet, they are perfectly capable of viewing themselves as an individual.
Can a Three-Year-Old Remember Things?
At three years of age, your child’s memory is fast developing. They may be able to remember their favorite nursery rhymes, and even sing along as they are being played.
They might also be able to recall incidents that happened a few days back, the names of people they were introduced to, and so on.
When Should I Be Concerned For My 3 Year Old?
As parents, one of the most important things to remember is to never second guess your child. It may seem like your child isn’t meeting the criteria of the perfect child that you might have built up in your head, but all children are built differently.
Each child has his own unique way of thinking, processing, and learning, and may take his own time to hit those milestones, and that’s okay. Some children learn to walk before their first birthday, while others don’t learn until they’re almost one and a half years old. While it is okay to feel concerned, don’t let it become something you obsess over.
Keep an eye out for any of these skills, which your child may not have perfected yet.
- Your child cannot hold onto a crayon
- They can’t throw a ball overhead
- They experience difficulty stacking blocks and scribbling with crayons.
- They can’t jump in place
- They find it difficult to ride a tricycle
- They ignore other children on a playdate and show no interest in social interaction
- They have difficulty using the toilet and dressing up
- They are unable to use the words ‘me’ and ‘you’ properly
If they are unable to do these even when they are three years old, it might point to a possibility of developmental delay, and you might need to consider paying the pediatrician a visit.