Preschool Life: 4-year-olds

What are 4-year-olds like?

  • Are the busiest, noisiest, most active children
  • Want far more independence than they can handle
  • Are interested in adults and in all their activities
  • Can be blustering and self-confident one minute – and crushed and dejected the next
  • Are testing their whole world and the people in it to see how much they can control
  • Run – they do not walk, they ache to use their big muscles
  • Show off – they are bossy
  • Love to make loud noises – but are easily frightened by sirens or thunder
  • Are fascinated by words, their sounds and effect, they experiment with “naughty” words
  • Begin to think as individual persons apart from their families
  • Are developing a sense of humor
  • Are not as strong as they look – tire easily
  • May have a lot of colds and earaches – be watchful
  • Are often unable to make choices for themselves

I am big and strong…I can do anything and everything…don’t tell anyone, I need your HELP!

Photo by  Jeffery Pomranka

4-year-olds are developing greater self-control, the key word is developing. They have a tendency to “bump” up against the social rules; it is an optimum time for children to learn core values, such as empathy, trust and compassion.  They are learning rules for themselves and need opportunities to experience social, emotional and cognitive problems and challenges. They love to talk and explore new language, so watch what you say. 4-year-olds ask hundreds of “Why” questions daily, they want and need to be taken seriously. Their pretend play is more complex and imaginative and can be sustained for longer periods. They can also make plans and complete tasks. Fours need our guidance as the make plans for their play…”let’s write it down for you” or “let’s draw a picture of it.” 4-year-olds want to try new experiences. They also want to be more self-reliant and seek to expand the areas of their lives where they can be independent decision-makers. Identity is a crucial and a core milestone of development. Gender differences are important. They begin to create special groups as they understand gender differences. Sometimes, 4-year-olds are considered “wild and wonderful.”

What can 4-year-olds do?

  • Talk, Talk, Talk
  • Dress themselves if given time
  • Run and jump with dexterity
  • Love to ask endless questions
  • Can talk about their work
  • Can follow simple directions
  • Can put materials away by themselves, but prefer some adult help

What Works for 4-year olds?

Lots of outdoor play is important for a 4-year-old, where they explore all new physical abilities, climbing, jumping, skipping, marching, galloping and running.  4-year-olds run, don’t walk, and need constant reminders about walking inside.  We need to be proactive as they are beginning to navigate social discord…”Jonah is not listening to me!” They still only see it from their perspective and need logical guidance for social challenges.  Plan for meaningful successes and to support challenges and failures with a loving yet pragmatic lens…”sometimes you don’t always get what you want and that’s OK.”

Post by Steve Zwolak