The preschooler is emerging from the toddler stage, but they are still very much in development. While they can dress themselves and brush their teeth (sometimes), there is still a lot of learning going on. They are getting better at using language to communicate with others, learning about numbers, learning how to play with other children, and developing manual dexterity. They are also learning how to make decisions and solve problems on their own, including moral issues.
Preschoolers still don’t know quite yet that they are individuals in their own right. This isn’t entirely a bad thing; the preschooler is very close with Mommy or Daddy (and sometimes both) and loves to be with them as much as possible. They also like to be with their friends and other family members.
They experiment with language and attempt to use it. Understanding that words refer to things is becoming clearer, and they love to talk about what they do and what is around them. Preschoolers like to know how their names are spelled and enjoy reading books such as Cat (by Barbara Liskov) or Brown Bear, Brown Bear (by Bill Martin).
Sometime in this period children begin to use language in a social context. They talk about people and things around them, ask questions about things they don’t understand, and answer the questions of others. They also develop a sense of simple cause-and-effect relationships.
They are getting better at manual dexterity, but are still working on fine motor skills. For some preschoolers, scribbling with crayons is the extent of their artistic ability; for others, art becomes an important part of their lives. Preschoolers love to paint, draw pictures (especially ones that include themselves), color in coloring books, make “collages” out of torn construction paper or magazine scraps glued onto paper, cut out anything they can get their hands on (including fingers!), and put stickers anywhere they can stick them. Sometimes children this age begin to write.
Some preschoolers are able to dress themselves (and may even insist on doing it themselves) and many can brush their teeth. However, most still need help with simple tasks like tying shoes or buttoning buttons. They are also working on climbing stairs, jumping, hopping, skipping, kicking balls, throwing balls overhand instead of underhand (if they haven’t already done so), and catching a ball. They also develop the ability to hop on one foot for a few seconds at a time.
They love activities that involve movement, especially running! Many enjoy riding tricycles and four-wheel bikes; skateboards scare them until they get used to them.