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Developmental Milestones


Take note that each child is unique individual, and may not exhibit every one of these milestones. A wide range of behaviors is considered normal, and some children will demonstrate certain abilities earlier or later than these general guidelines.


Your child will undergo the remarkable transformation from infant to toddler at the age of one. Everything is new and exciting at this age and toddlers take interest in experimenting with cause-and-effect activities like endlessly opening and shutting doors or drawers. The ability to walk and eventually run gives children endless new ways to explore the world around them.
Here are some typical milestones you may see in your one year-old child:

Language and Cognitive Development:
•    Understands simple sentences and instructions.
•    Points to their eyes, ears and nose.
•    Speaks two-word phrases instead of babbling.
•    Shows dramatic vocabulary growth.
•    Tries to hum or sing.
•    Looks at simple picture books and nursery rhymes.
•    Begins pointing to and naming pictures of common objects, animals or characters.
•    Completes simple cut-out puzzles fitting simple shapes into their proper spaces.
•    Recognizes and enjoys familiar sequences of events, such as breakfast, lunch and then dinner.
•    Understands an object still exists even when hidden and will search in several locations for it.

Social-Emotional Development:
•    Cries when a parent leaves the room or fusses when an unfamiliar adult approaches.
•    Recognizes him or herself in the mirror.
•    May begin saying "no" to many things.
•    Hitting, biting, slapping and screaming may emerge as toddlers struggle for contentment but also want independence.
•    Imitates adult actions such as talking on the phone, stirring a pot or watering flowers.

Motor Skill Development:
•    Walks independently early in the year but with lots of tripping and falling.
•    Improves fine motor coordination, such as scribbling with crayon or marker.
•    Ascends stairs with help and jump in place.
•    Eats with a spoon.
•    Fill and empties containers or stacks nested pots or bowls.
•    Flushes toilets, open drawers, and crawls inside cupboards.
•    Plays with toys that can be pushed or pulled while walking, and scoots on small riding toys.
•    Responds to music by bouncing or "dancing".



Two-year-old children definitely have their moments, but this year is not as terrible as its reputation. Their drive for independence is strong and it is responsible for the toddler's dramatic advances in mental and motor skills during this year. At age of two, children finally shed the last vestiges of babyhood and truly transition into childhood.

Language and Cognitive Development:
•    Names familiar objects with the correct word.
•    Points to and identifies most body parts.
•    Develops a vocabulary of 150-300 words.
•    Complete sentences with up to five words and uses prepositions.
•    Begins to use pronouns, but often confuses “I" and "me".
•    Enjoys picture books and chooses a favorite story to be repeated.
•    Sing the "ABC" song, but cannot link letter names to what they look like in text.
•    Completes a jigsaw puzzle with 8 pieces or less.
•    Sorts shapes and can stack a tower of rings by size.
•    Understands adding and subtracting with basic numbers.
•    Begins to use logic and reasoning.

Social-Emotional Development:
•    Talks about feelings and begins to control them.
•    Enjoys the company of peers and grows aware of own gender.
•    Demonstrates mood changes and becomes easily angered.
•    Prefers predictable routines.
•    Behaves stubbornly and frequently asserts their opinion by saying "no".
•    Engages in creative pretend play where props may substitute for real items

Motor Skills Development:
•    Runs and walks smoothly.
•    Walks up or down stairs independently.
•    Jumps with both feet off the ground and climbs enthusiastically.
•    Kicks and catches a small ball, and rolls or throw the ball overhand.
•    Progresses to potty training towards the end of the year.
•    Pushes riding toys with feet, but cannot yet steer.
•    Stacks three to five blocks in tower.
•    Begins to draw pictures or write letters.



Three is that wonderful age when your child - although still very little and cute - has begun to truly express themselves and explore the world more independently. You will be amazed at some of the things your 3 year old can say and remember, so be sure to keep those diaries and video cameras handy!

Language and Cognitive Development:
•    Handles three word sentences easily; using pronounces (I, you, me) and some prepositions (in, on, under) correctly.
•    Roughly 90% of speech is understandable; however, may go through a phase normal stuttering.
•    Identifies most body parts ( e.g. nose, head, feet, belly button)
•    Loves to hear the same stories over again and enjoys learning simple rhymes and songs.
•    Names a few primary colours.
•    Interested in box and reading and identifies a few letters of the alphabet - especially those of own name.
•    Thrives with a regular schedule and routine and is capable of keeping attention for no more than a few minutes.
•    Able to count to two to three objects.
•    Understands "if-then" statements, like "if you drop an egg, then it will break"
•    Understands "yesterday", "today" and "tomorrow". But little sense of time beyond this.

Social-Emotional Development:
•    Knows own age, gender, first and last name.
•    Attached to parents and other family members, but stranger anxiety has begun to diminish.
•    Shifts mood relatively quickly.
•    Throws tantrums on occasion when tired or hungry.
•    Imitates parents (eg., shaving or talking on the phone)
•    Engages in pretend social play ("You be the mommy”, I’ll be the daddy")
•    Enjoys peers, but play is "parallel- rather than truly interactive.
•    Begins learning to share and take turns.

Motor Skills Development:
•    Jumps and hops by themselves.
•    Walks upstairs alternating feet, and downstairs leading with one foot.
•    Pedals and steers a tricycle.
•    Undresses self, but still needs help dressing.
•    Stacks up to ten blocks in a tower.
•    Is able to draw a circle.



Four is the ages of “why” –when children begin thinking about the outside world and wonder how things work. Their mood swings have settled down, and attention spans are growing longer, so your preschooler can play in a calm and focused manner. Here are some of the behaviors you can expect to see:

Language and Cognitive Development:
•    Speaks in four to five word sentences, and repeats a word with four syllables.
•    Knows names of familiar animals and common objects.
•    Sorts objects by shape or color.
•    Counts up to 10 and recognizes numerals from zero to nine.
•    Follows multi-step instructions (“Brush your teeth, pick a book and come to bed”)
•    Distinguishes between the real world and the imaginary world.
•    Attempts reading and writing; enjoys stories and can connect them to their own life.
•    Notices rhyming sounds in words.
•    Knows the days  of the week, month and season, but can’t tell time.
•    Asks lots of “why” questions.

Social-Emotional Development:
•    Talks to self while playing alone (“private speech”)
•    Play make-believe or enjoys dress-up and role playing (“mommy” ,” daddy”, ”teacher” “astronaut”)
•    Begins playing cooperatively with peers and will share when asked.
•    Likes to laugh and be silly.
•    Likes moderate rough- and- tumble play.
•    Understands difference between right and wrong.

Motor skills Development
•    Walks downstairs, alternating feet.
•    Runs smoothly: can gallop and skip on one foot.
•    Throws ball with transfer of weight on feet; catches using the hands.
•    Smoothly rides tricycle or bicycle with training wheels.
•    Dresses self (except for tying shoes)
•    Pours from a small pitcher without spilling.
•    Tries to cut with blunt scissors.
•    Puts together a jigsaw puzzle with four to twelve pieces.



Five is the age when most children begin mainstream schooling – which is an exciting, and somewhat scary, transition. However, five-year-olds are enthusiastic learners who delight in solving problems and discovering more about the wider world. Friends also take on greater importance as your five-year-old develops a better understanding of other’s thoughts and feelings. Here are some of the milestones you may see:

Language and Cognitive Development:
•    Uses five to eight words in a sentence.
•    Likes to argue and reason; uses works like “because”
•    Knows their address and phone number.
•    Understands the stories have a beginning, middle, and end; knows opposites like big and little.
•    Draws pictures that represent animals, people, and familiar objects.
•    Knows their uppercase and most lowercases letters and beginning phonetics.
•    Sorts objects by size, shape or number, counts up to 20 objects; carries out simple addition and subtraction problems.
•    Sequences events chronologically and is learning to tell time.
•    Can use measuring tools like a ruler, scale, or thermometer.
•    Has a good attention span; can concentrate on projects like block building and drawing.
•    Interested in cause and effect.

Social-Emotional Development:
•    Enjoys sharing jokes and laughter with others.
•    Helps with chores, like folding laundry or emptying the dishwasher.
•    Plays independently but also enjoys peer company.
•    May tattle, name-call, hit an shove at times, but is generally in control of aggressive impulses.
•    Take turns and cooperates in simple group tasks or play.
•    May act bossy or exclude other children (“best friends” become important)
•    More sensitive to feeling of others; shows kindness and says “please” and “thank-you”

Motor Skills Development:
•    Gallops smoothly and skips using both feet.
•    Rides bicycle with training wheels.
•    Balances on either foot for 5-10 seconds.
•    Jumps rope and catches bounced balls.
•    Learning complex coordination skills like swimming, dancing, ice or roller skating.
•    Uses a fork and knife well.
•    Manages zipper and buttons and may be able to tie shoelaces.
•    Reliably uses right or left hand to eat and draw.


Six is a big turning point, when children can absorb more formal teaching and begin to comfortably read simple books or passages. While the greater demands of school can be a big change, most six-year-olds are optimistic about learning and enjoy the routine of school days. Here are some of the developmental characteristics you may start to see:

Language and Cognitive Development:
•    Pays attention for 15 minutes at a time.
•    Expands vocabulary rapidly.
•    Speaks clearly, but may still have trouble with sounds like “r” and “th”
•    Reads short books or paragraphs silently or aloud.
•    Counts to 200 and backward from 20.
•    Understands “odd” verses “even” numbers.
•    Understands the difference between addition and subtraction.
•    Begins to read music with instruction.
•    Memorizes lines for short plays or lyrics for songs.
•    Distinguishes left from right, but may still reverse “b” and “d” in printing.
•    Comprehends abstract thinking – like understanding that the earth is round, even though it looks flat.

Social-Emotional Development:
•    Enjoys being with peers, though conflicts may remain frequent.
•    Prefers same-gender playmates.
•    Views things as right or wrong, with little middle ground.
•    Sensitive to criticism and may have difficulty admitting a mistake.
•    Understands opposite opinions.

Motor Skills Development:
•    Bounces a ball four to six times.
•    Rides a bicycle without training wheels.
•    Ties shoelaces.
•    Learns some specific sports skills like batting or hitting a tennis ball.
•    Enjoys competitive games.
•    Dances in time to a beat or rhythm and remembers simple movement routines.


Seven is a great age, when your child is becoming independent and has moved beyond the mood swings and inconsolability of earlier years. Peers are becoming more important, but still don’t rule children’s frame of mind as they will in a few years. Here are some other abilities typical of seven-year-old:

Language and Cognitive Development:
•    Begins using logic to solve problems.
•    Reads aloud fluently and with expression, but still enjoys being read to.
•    Writes in complete sentences using capitalization, some punctuation, and the correct spelling of common words.
•    Use a ruler, thermometer, and scale to make accurate measurements.
•    Solve word problems using secure knowledge of addition and subtraction facts.
•    Has a solid sense of time (second, minutes, days, etc.) and may enjoy planning their day.
•    Identifies common tow-and three-dimensional geometric shapes and understands their symmetry.
•    Knows the value of different coins and how they add and subtract.

Social-Emotional Development:
•    Has overcome some fears from earlier age, but may still be scared of the unknown.
•    Plays with both boys and girls, but probably has a best friend of the same gender.
•    Enjoys dramatic play (dress-up, make-believe, pretend play)
•    Blames others or “tattles” on their mistakes.
•    Uses languages to express feelings.
•    Has trouble getting along with siblings.
•    Aware of and is sensitive to the feelings of others.
•    Works cooperatively with a partner at school.
•    Follows directions and is usually able to control self in public.

Motor Skills Development:
•    Refines hand-eye coordination.
•    Preoccupies with teeth (and losing them)
•    Remembers and performs brief dance routines or sequences of hand movements.
•    Effectively combines motor skills like running while dribbling a basketball or jumping and spinning.


Take note that each child is unique individual, and may not exhibit every one of these milestones. A wide range of behaviors is considered normal, and some children will demonstrate certain abilities earlier or later than these general guidelines.

(c) Peek-A-Boo 2012