Child Development

Play Years : Developmental Milestones

A major step in the life of any child is the beginning of the school phase. Children as young as two years old are now being put into playschools where they start learning basic social skills as well as academic ones. Psychologists term the stage from two years to five years as preschool years or ‘play years’. In this stage, the concept of play is very important as it helps the child to understand the social structure of their peer group as well as develop their language skills. The neurological changes in the brain, during this time, greatly influence the processes of language. Children have the urge to talk continuously or communicate with the people around which helps them to develop better speaking skills, grammar structure as well as develop a wide range of vocabulary. Their cognitive and motor skills are also more developed which allows them to participate in as many play activities as they want. Children between the ages of 3 to 5, develop a concept called ‘theory of mind’. It is the understanding that other people may think differently from them and they can judge their thoughts. Emotional skills also develop during this phase where a child who is three years old may be prone to tantrums or uncontrollable anger but a child at five years old is able to control and better express his/her emotions.

Development Milestones in Play Years

Now going back to the assessment or observation of children at this stage for any areas of concern, we can look at certain developmental milestones. I would like to reiterate that the below checklist is only a guideline towards understanding if your child has an area of concern. I would urge you to consult a child psychologist or clinical psychologist if you have any concerns regarding your child’s mental and intellectual health. Please observe your child over a period of six months to see if the issues are still continuing and then you can consult your doctor. You can use the checklist below as an initial guideline to help you with your observations.

Developmental tasksExpected AgeCompleted
Walks up steps by stepping one foot on each.4 years
Picks up small objects easily4 years
Unbuttons4 years
Tells stories4 years
Speaks in completed sentences4 years
He/she knows his/her full name, age, gender4 years
Speech is intelligible 4 years
Dresses oneself4 years
Feeds self4 years
Toilet trained4 years
Gets along with other children4 years
Imitates adults doing simple tasks4 years
Build tower of ten blocks 4 years
Copies a circle4 years
Matches object to color4 years
Hops and skips on one foot5 years
Catches a ball with hands5 years
Brushes teeth5 years
Follows 3 step-commands4-5 years
Recognizes shapes5 years
Points to four colors5 years
Copies square, triangle, circle5 years

*Partially taken from the ‘Academic Problems in primary school children enrolled under SSA-Karnataka’

Speech and language milestones in Infants
Toddler Milestones
Areas of Development in Children

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