Your child's development

Children are different and are interested in different activities; you may notice this when your child plays with other children. The following ideas are a guide only, but it can be helpful to know some things to expect and look out for.

You can expect your 3 year old to:

  • run and jump
  • walk up and down stairs holding onto a hand or rail
  • throw, kick and sometimes catch a ball
  • know lots of words, and join words together in short sentences
  • like to help around the house.

By 3 years old, children understand sharing, but aren’t always willing to do so. Your child may begin to play alongside other children, watching them and giving them toys.

You can expect your 4 year old to:

  • climb
  • have good balancing skills
  • have skills in ball games
  • put on and take off some clothes
  • speak in sentences
  • know their name and sometimes even their address
  • make up imaginative stories
  • know some songs.

By 4 years old, they play with other children and understand taking turns and sharing. Sometimes they can’t do this and the children will argue.

You can expect your 5 year old to:

  • skip, hop, climb and run easily
  • play a variety of ball games
  • use a knife and fork
  • draw pictures of things like houses and people
  • speak clearly enough for people who don’t know them to understand what they’re saying
  • ask what different words mean.

By 5 years old, they enjoy playing games with friends most of the time and understand the need for rules and fair play.

Hearing and language (Te Rongo a te reo)

Does your child:

  • understand most simple words by 3 years of age
  • speak clearly by 4 years of age (unless they have a known speech problem)
  • tell a story about what they’ve done
  • answer if you call from another room
  • like naming things
  • like looking at books and being read to
  • know a few songs or nursery rhymes
  • ask lots of ‘why’, ‘when’, ‘how’, and ‘what’ questions
  • say how they feel
  • count to three
  • understand most of what you say?

At about 3 to 4 years, your child may be able to make up their own stories. You may notice they ask lots of questions. This is how they learn about things they’re interested in.

Some ideas that may help develop your child’s language:

  • Talk with them about their ideas, feelings and things that have happened to them. Talking builds confidence and helps them learn how to talk to other people.
  • Talk about new words and sounds.
  • Talk to them about how things change, such as day changing to night or how plants grow.
  • Praise them when they’re talking and using new words.
  • Read books with them - books help children develop new ideas.

Delayed language development or difficult behaviour can be caused by your child not being able to hear well. Worrying signs can include your child not responding to sounds, speaking clearly, or joining two to three words together by the time they are 3 to 4 years old. 

Eyesight (Te kitenga)

Your child’s eyesight is now well developed. They can see small things on the floor and objects clearly at a distance. When your child is 4, you can talk to Plunket staff about an appointment for a B4 School check. 

Talk to your Plunket nurse or another health provider about your child’s eyesight if they show any of these signs.

Do they:

  • tilt their head in an unusual way
  • have a lazy eye, cross-eye or squint (you might not know exactly what these are, but you’ll notice that it’s different
  • because your child’s eye or eyes will move or sit differently from what you see in other people).
  • show any unusual eye movement, such as roving eyes or jerky eye movement (this will be different to what you usually see in other people).
  • often run into things, high or low
  • search with their hands
  • bring objects close to their eyes
  • hate bright lights
  • avoid looking at your face or turn to look at bright objects.
  • need to sit very close to the TV?
An interesting link from Plunket
Here's something I read on the Plunket website I thought you might find interesting.
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