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Your Child's Development (Preschool)

This information describes skills your child is likely to develop between the ages of 3 and 5 years.

Movement and Physical Development

  • Pedals a tricycle (3-wheel bike)
  • Can catch a softball-sized ball from up to 5 feet away
  • Walks up and down stairs, 1 foot on each step
  • Can jump 8 to 12 inches in all directions
  • Can balance on 1 foot for up to 3 seconds
  • Can walk across a 4-inch balance beam
  • Can kick a ball
  • Can hop

Social-Emotional and Self-Help Skills

  • Gets upset with major changes in routine
  • Takes turns during games
  • Separates easily from parents
  • Would rather play with others than alone
  • Enjoys doing new things
  • Talks about things he or she likes
  • Plays pretend, such as role playing
  • Wants to please friends
  • Likes to sing, dance, and act

Learning, Thinking, and Problem Solving Skills

  • Able to follow 2- to 3-step directions
  • Can say own name, age, and gender
  • Can name friends
  • Can build block towers and place basic puzzle pieces correctly in form board
  • Turns book pages 1 at a time
  • Can copy basic shapes
  • Can draw a person with 6 body parts
  • Starts to understand time

Speech, Language, and Communication Skills

  • Speaks clearly enough for strangers to understand what he or she is saying
  • Uses different tenses (e.g., “Grandma will be here.”)
  • Tells simple stories using full sentences

What can I do to help with my child's development?

  • Encourage physical activity with supervision.
  • Encourage actions by praising your child when he or she shows good behavior.
  • Let your child make choices.
  • Encourage your child to play with other children.
  • Let your child be as independent as possible.
  • Have your child help with simple chores.
  • Encourage imagination during play.
  • Teach your child to take turns during play with others.
Talk to your child's doctor if you notice that your child:
  • Can't jump in place
  • Has trouble scribbling
  • Shows no interest in interactive games or make-believe
  • Ignores other children or doesn't respond to people outside the family
  • Resists dressing, sleeping, and using the toilet
  • Can't retell a favorite story
  • Doesn't follow 3-part commands
  • Doesn't understand “same” and “different”
  • Doesn't use “me” and “you” correctly
  • Speaks unclearly
  • Loses skills he or she once had
  • Doesn't like to change position
  • Doesn't like changes in environment (such as noise level or lighting)
  • Doesn't feel comfortable trying to balance on different types of surfaces

Although your child is undergoing cancer treatment and may not feel energetic, it is still important to encourage movement, communication, and play as part of his or her daily routine.

If you have questions about your child's development, ask your child's doctor if a referral to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) Physical and Occupational Therapy team would be helpful.

MSKCC Physical and Occupational Therapy
(212) 639-7833
Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm