Written By: Psychologist Natasha Tanic
Your four year old is quickly reaching the end of toddler-hood and transitioning to the preschool stage.
He is becoming very independent and self-confident and starting to develop greater self-control.
At this age, kids are getting better at expressing their emotions when they feel frustrated, sad, or angry.
Although children develop at their individual pace, most typically developing kids reach their milestones at this stage of development.
Toys and independent play are a significant part of your child’s development at 4 years of age.
To nurture your 4 year old child’s development, identify his interests and emerging skills and provide toys and play opportunities based on them.
Physical Development Milestones
Your 4 year old is very mobile. He can confidently climb, jump, hop, swing, run, and ride a balance bike or a pedal bike (with or without training wheels).
Most of the time, you don’t have to support your child anymore while he’s going up stairs or down stairs.
Also, four year olds can stand on one foot for more than 5 seconds, hop, do a somersault, and walk forward and backward with ease.
Your preschooler can now copy a circle, triangle, and square, draw a person with a body, use a fork and spoon, stack 10 or more blocks, and take care of his personal needs without much help.
At this age, your child enjoys exploring his environment and taking risks, so it is essential to make sure that your little explorer stays safe.
However, instead of constantly interfering with his play and redirecting your child, think about how to provide a safe playing environment.
Setting up a safe home-playing and learning environment helps keep kids interested in learning while reducing behavior challenges.
Your child is now old enough to learn about the basic safety rules, such as not to open the door to strangers or to avoid kitchen appliances.
Also, remember that your 4 year old can now reach every corner of the house, so keep all potentially hazardous items in your home out his sight and reach.
Social-Emotional Development Milestones
Four year old kids enjoy doing new things every day.
Preschoolers become more creative with their make-believe play. They love playing ‘mom’, ‘dad’, doctor, and similar role playing games.
At this stage of development, your child plays with other children rather than by himself.
While playing, he respects the rules of turn-taking and waiting and cooperates with other kids successfully most of the time.
Your 4 year old child enjoys talking about his everyday experiences with you. He often tells you what he likes and what he is interested in.
Cognitive And Language Developmental Milestones At Four Years Of Age
Your four year old is curious and able to carry on a conversation. Moreover, at this age, your child’s vocabulary is growing and he is able to answer and ask questions and express his feelings.
He may even make up his own words and enjoy being silly.
Also, at this age, kids can typically speak clearly and use more complex sentences.
They can also correctly name at least three shapes and four objects, and count ten or more objects.
Your preschooler can also now recognize some or all the letters of the alphabet and write his own name.
Kids at this age can follow three to four word commands and have a greater attention span. They also know their name, address, and phone number.
Toys And Activities That Promote Development And Learning
In addition to being safe, toys and activities for 4 year old toddlers need to match their developing abilities and interests.
The best play ideas for preschoolers include board and memory games, building games, reading, arts, crafts, sensory activities, and outdoor play.
Toys That Promote Problem-Solving Skills
Buy your four-year-old toys such as puzzles with 10 to 20 plus pieces, collections of objects that can be sorted by color, size, length, shape, and quantity.
Provide blocks of different sizes, colors, and textures, and pieces that snap together.
Encourage sensory play with a variety of objects such as seashells, rocks, buttons, plastic bottle caps, Play Doh, sand, dry pasta, and other sensory items.
Pretend Play Toys
Pretend play boosts language and speech development and promotes social and emotional skills.
Through pretend play, kids learn about responsibility and social roles, develop imagination, empathy, and self-control, and gain independence.
Provide child-sized furniture such as chairs, sofas, or tables.
Also, buy your four year old toddler toys like pretend food, house sets, dolls with accessories, and dress-up clothes and accessories.
Buying puppets and creating puppet theaters together is a great way to spend quality time with your child at this age.
Toys for building promote cognitive and language skills, coordination, and gross and fine motor development.
To support your child’s development, buy toys such as blocks for building complex structures, LEGO, construction sets, and transportation toys.
Toys That Promote Creativity And Imagination
Four year olds love creating and inventing things. To boost their imagination and thinking abilities, provide a variety of things to create with, such as:
- Finger paint
- Large and small markers and crayons
- Large and small chalk and chalkboard
- Play Doh and modeling clay
- Modeling tools
- Preschooler-sized scissors
- White and colored paper
- Tissue paper and coffee filters
- Pipe cleaners and pom-poms
Music And Musical Instruments
Provide devices with a variety of music and buy some of the toy instruments such as xylophones, tambourines, or maracas.
Music boosts memory skills and helps young kids learn the sounds and meanings of words.
Dancing to music promotes self-expression and develops motor skills.
Read to your preschooler every day and introduce new books often.
Buy picture books with detailed pictures and encourage your child to repeat stories, name the characters, and express his opinion about what you are reading.
Books and reading promote literacy and language, boost thinking, memory, and imagination, and encourage emotional expression.
Toys That Promote Movement
Use a variety of toys that encourage your child to use his large and small muscles, such as balls, ride-on equipment (climbers, push-toys, tricycles, wheelbarrows, wagons, tunnels).
Outdoor toys and equipment promote physical development, coordination, agility, and strength.
Four year old toddlers are becoming more and more independent.
They also enjoy engaging with their peers and love exploring and playing with a variety of toys.
They are learning skills essential for school success and preparing for kindergarten.
To promote your 4 year old’s learning and development, encourage lots of free play, provide a safe playing environment, and buy a variety of developmentally-appropriate and engaging toys.