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Is your preschooler struggling to learn?

Children grow and develop at different rates, but most will reach several milestones between the ages of 3 and 5. Developmental milestones can help identify when a child is struggling and provide direction to find out why. Children who are not meeting milestones and/or are struggling to learn may need additional supports to help them prepare for kindergarten.

A range of concerns could potentially impact a child's learning ability, including difficulties with speech and/or language, cognitive impairment, autism spectrum disorder, emotional concerns, traumatic brain injury, hearing or visual difficulties, early childhood developmental delay or a specific learning disability. Special education programs and/or supports are available to children ages 3, 4 and 5 through the local school district. Intervening as early as possible can in many cases resolve, or at least limit, a child's roadblock to learning. 

What Most Children Do at Age 3*

  • Copies adults and friends
  • Takes turns in games
  • Follows instructions with 2 or 3 steps
  • Plays make-believe with dolls, animals and people
  • May get upset with major changes in routine
  • May copy a circle with a pencil or crayon
  • Turns book pages one at a time
  • Runs easily

What Most Children Do at Age 4*

  • Enjoys doing new things
  • Would rather play with other children than by him/herself
  • Sings a song or says a poem from memory such as "Itsy Bitsy Spider" or "Wheels on the Bus"
  • Can say first and last name
  • Able to name some colors and numbers
  • Catches a bounced ball most of the time
  • Often can't tell what's real and what's make-believe

What Most Children Do at Age 5*

  • Hops; may be able to skip
  • Can print some letters or numbers
  • Likes to sing, dance and act
  • Is aware of gender
  • Can tell what's real and what's make-believe
  • Can play simple games such as Candy Land and Go Fish
  • Wants to be like friends
  • Is sometimes demanding and sometimes very cooperative

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

*Milestones checklists available to download in English and Spanish

Need more information? Learn more about our services, or call the Michigan Special Education Information Line at 1-888-320-8384.

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