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4 years old


Make-believe play fills your preschooler’s days, and the first true friendships begin to develop as social skills improve. You’ll find ideas here to help your four-year-old exercise problem-solving skills, get the most out of imaginative play, and even meet new physical challenges.

    Learn to swim, skate, dance, ski and bounce on a trampoline
    Have a longer attention span for engaging in new activities
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How your 4-year-old might play now:

With a longer attention span, a new activity can keep him engaged for extended periods

She can learn to swim, skate, dance, ski and bounce on a trampoline

He can explain something that happened when you weren't there

She begins to grasp that people have different experiences and feelings than she does

As coordination improves, he can use the monkey bars at the playground, walk along a curb, and dodge when he's chased

She is starting to add details to her drawings

He may print his name on his artwork

Her gait is more grown-up

Children develop at their own pace and reach milestones at different times. The highlights mentioned in this website are approximate guidelines only. If you have any questions about your child's development, consult your healthcare provider.

Toys and Playtips

Dollhouses and accessories

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Help your child learn more:
  • A world of play. Help your child set up an inviting play environment, with enough room to spread out as she plays.
  • Make a play mat together. Use a long roll of paper or poster board, and paint or draw streets and yards. Ask your child to think of names for the streets, the village square, the town beach, etc. She may want to model it after her own neighborhood, a favorite vacation spot or another familiar place.
  • Tell me about it. Encourage your child to tell you a story about what she's acting out with her dolls and accessories. This will help her put imaginative thoughts into words and give her confidence in expressing ideas.

Cars, vehicles and RC toys

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Help your child learn more:
  • Everyday fun. Create a challenging roadway for your child's vehicles using everyday objects. Let him race his cars through paper towel "tunnels," roll them to the top of pillow "mountains" and maneuver them over a broom's bristles.
  • Be an announcer. Watch a short car race on TV. Instead of relying on the speedway announcer, turn the sound off and take turns calling the action!
  • All about safety. Turn an outing into a lesson in vehicle safety. Take a walk on a city sidewalk and point out the road signs and signals. Explain what they mean, and why it's important for motorists to obey them.

Dragons and dinosaurs

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Help your child learn more:
  • Use historic reference. You can teach important lessons using imagination-based figures or ones from another era, like medieval knights or dinosaurs.
  • Tell me a story. Ask your child to tell you about what he's pretending, encouraging thinking, language and communication skills. "Tell me a story about what happened today."
  • What’s happening? Let your child create his own story by taking pictures of toys in different play situations. Spread the pictures out in front of your child and ask him to put them into a story sequence: "What happened first?" "Then what happened?" Continue until your child has sorted through the photos and come up with the framework of a story that has a beginning, middle and end.

Battery-powered ride-ons

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Help your child learn more:
  • Safe and sure. Make sure the area your child is riding in is not only safe, but also big enough to make turns. Always directly supervise your child and remind her of the do's and don'ts of safe riding (do watch where you're going; don't go near the street; don't go out of the driveway).
  • Practice makes perfect. Set up an obstacle course with traffic cones or kid-sized road signs you've made together. Tell your child about some of the basic traffic symbols, and point out real road signs as you're driving together.
  • Set the stage. Offer props to help make this ride-on part of your child's bigger, imaginative play schemes. For example, if he's pretending to be a rescue worker riding to the scene of an emergency, remind him of his firefighter's hat, pretend badge, or special jacket that may add to the look.
  • Taking turns. If your child is sharing the vehicle with a sibling or friend, a timer can be a helpful, impartial "announcer" when it's someone else's turn to drive.
  • Parking spot. Find a safe place for your child to "park" his vehicle in your garage or shed, with the responsibility to return it there when he's done driving.