What is a preschooler?
Depending on how you look at him or her a preschooler can be defined
or understood in many different ways. Here are some ways to help you
relate to and improve your relationship with your preschool age child.
The preschool child is a whirlwind of activity. They are active
explorers of the world around them. In addition, they are more
confident about using their bodies. They run smoothly, at moderate
speeds, jump, climb and perform other "gross motor"
activities fairly well.
"Fine motor" skills, i.e., using scissors, drawing,
painting, and pasting are coming along but have not yet reached the
level of skill of an older 5 to 7 year old child.
Preschoolers can be described, in terms of their cognition, as
"little explorer's." They are seeking to understand how the
world operates and functions. They role-play mom and dad to determine
gender differences and they take things apart to see how things work.
Preschoolers can remember events from day to day; they can take what
they have learned from yesterday and begin to see how it applies to
today and even anticipate tomorrow. They still cannot separate
fantasy from reality and still live in a fairy tale, pre-operational
world. Attention span is approximately 8 to 15 minutes on a good day.
Preschool age children are beginning to learn how to interact with
their peers. At 3 and 4 years of age they engage in parallel play.
Parallel play consists of children, in a group, playing with the same
toys, but not with each other. They play "side-by-side"
versus cooperatively together.
At 5 and 6 years of age children begin to play cooperative, e.g.,
throwing a ball to each other and rolling cars back and forth. At
this age gender identity is also forming and children become curious
about sexual differences. As friendships develop they become
concerned with having "best" friends. Expressive arts, that
develop gross and fine motor skills, are beneficial.
At this age, preschoolers will be "like" all kinds of
people from mom and dad, to the garbage man, to the policeman. The
purpose behind this type of play is to understand the role of adults
in their life.
Preschoolers want to please adults. They need frequent approval and
reassurance from primary caregivers. They like to be observed when
playing and wants parent's full attention. They may become fearful
when separated from parents or caregivers but are generally easily
consoled and adjust to new environments within a few minutes.
Language development is tied into cognitive development but is such a
major part of the preschool age child, that it is addressed as a
Developmentally, three-year-old children can use complete sentences
and is constantly asking questions. They can speak about 900 words
and can communicate their basic needs, such as "I'm hungry"
or "My foot hurts."
Four-year-old children can use complete and compound sentences. They
will speak approximately 1,500 words. They like to sing, tell tall
tales, brag, and will often exaggerate and call other children names.
Five-year-old children speak over 2,000 words and love to tell and
listen to stories. They can focus for longer periods of time and
often asks thoughtful questions.
In addition, 3-5 year old children can only understand simple, clear
commands and have difficulty following multi-step directives, such
as: "Clean your room."
Common Parenting Problems with Preschool Age Children
6. Everyday Care (dressing self, table manners, etc.)