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4 years-5 years

Tips and Milestones

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  What are some common milestones for a 4-year-old?

Four-year-olds are energetic and imaginative. They learn new words quickly and will use them!

Common milestones:

  • Climbs and jumps
  • Does self-care such as feeding self, brushing teeth, and unbuttoning clothing
  • Asks and answers who, what, when, where, and why  questions
  • Continues an activity for 10-15 minutes
  • Recognizes some letters and words
  • Speaks fairly complex sentences such as "The baby ate the cookie before I could put it on the table."
  • Likes to talk and sing simple songs
  • Enjoys showing off
  • Likes taking turns and sharing but may get bossy

From Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

  What tips are there for working with a 4-year-old?

Four-year-olds have a strong need to feel important and appreciated — so notice their accomplishments!

  • Set up opportunities for children to do routine activities independently and to make choices.
  • Encourage physical development by including gross motor activities daily in your plans.
  • Read aloud every day and encourage your child to help in retelling the story.

From Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

  What are some common milestones for a 5-year-old?

A five-year-old is enthusiastic and energetic. Fives enjoy planning and discussing who will do what. A "best friend" is very important but hard to keep as social skills are not well developed yet.

Common milestones:

  • Loses baby teeth
  • Uses a fork and spoon well
  • Has a stronger memory with ability to memorize address and favorite stories
  • Has expanding vocabulary
  • Plays board games and card games and with blocks and puzzles (12-15 pieces)
  • Enjoys telling stories and jokes
  • Understands and respects rules — often asks permission
  • Likes to try new things

From Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

   What are some tips for working with a 5-year-old?

Ideas to encourage a five-year-old's development:

  • Ask "what if" questions and explain why and how things happen.
  • Ask your child to tell a story.
  • Have play dates with other children and teach your child how to negotiate, request, bargain, and apologize.
  • Help children understand and cope with strong feelings by giving them words to use when they are angry.
  • Involve children in writing notes, letters, and cards.

Highlight Videos



Additional milestone resources can be found at



Additional milestone resources can be found at


Play is the way!

Used with permission from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Office of Early Learning,


Early Learning Manager:

Krissy Washington
Phone: 414-475-8094
Fax: 414-475-8737

Early Childhood Supervisor/
Achievement Gap Reduction:

Allison Foyer
Phone: 414-475-8673
Fax: 414-475-8737

Head Start Program Supervisor:

Meredith Welch, MSW, APSW
Phone: 414-252-0350
Fax: 414-252-0365

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