Ages and Stages: Preschoolers

The preschool years are such a fun age.  This is a time when your child’s personality will really start to shine. Preschoolers are naturally curious and interested in the world, and the people, around them.  This is the age of imagination and pretend play, making friends, and new discoveries.

It is pretty wonderful to see your child’s individuality come out and to see them grow and change during these years.  It seems I say this with every stage, but the preschool years are some of the most enjoyable, in my opinion.

While all of the potential turbulence of the toddler years isn’t quite behind them, this age is generally a more mellow age as children begin to understand and employ a bit more patience, kindness, and empathy with others.

All of the bumps aren’t out of the road, and some kids do seem to have a more challenging time than their peers.  However, while there are still strong emotions, most parents note less escalation into the temper tantrums or the physical lashing out of the toddler years.

Preschoolers are very expressive, one of my favorite things about this age, to be honest.  Not much beats the enthusiasm of a preschooler when they are happy or excited about something.

Social Butterflies

While shyness is still fairly common, many children become more social at this age and will strike up a conversation with ease.  Kids usually begin to actively interact and engage in play with friends instead of beside them, as toddlers tend to do.

Sharing, while not easy for all kids to learn, becomes an important social skill. Contributor Amanda Morgan, of Not Just Cute, wrote a terrific post about teaching the art of sharing that is definitely worth a read if you have a preschooler in your life.  In fact, you should probably have Not Just Cute bookmarked if you’re the parent or caregiver of a preschool aged child.

Interests and Collections

This is an age when your child will develop individual interests and perhaps begin collections.  One of my kids was really into all things princess at this age, another is currently fixated on horses, and another started his interest in insects during the preschool years.  I know a preschooler who can’t pass an interesting rock without inspecting it.

It can be really neat to see what interests emerge in our kids at this age.  Sometimes these interests run parallel to something mom or dad or an older sibling is interested in, and sometimes they seem to come solely from within the preschooler without any outside influence.

Copycats and Sidekicks

It is important to remember that the preschool child is still very young and to keep your expectations of them adjusted accordingly to their age, but most parents find that at this age they suddenly have a fairly capable sidekick.  Kids at this age can take on a few age-appropriate responsibilities and chores and, unlike older siblings, they even enjoy them and love to be asked to help.

Preschool children are generally very interested in doing whatever it is that their parents are doing, whether that is helping in the garden or helping in the kitchen or with other household tasks.  Playing house becomes a big focus of play, as they model the family life they see – both the tasks and the social interactions and relationships.

The important thing here, and I believe one of our more important tasks as parents, is to make sure that the behavior we are showing is worthy of modeling.

Some Suggestions for the Preschooler

As I mentioned earlier, this is an age when kids have personal preferences and each child’s individual interests will vary, so a universal list isn’t going to cater to each child.

Still, I believe that some good things and practices for the preschooler include:

  • real tools to use such as a shovel and pail for gardening or a whisk broom and dust pan
  • places to dig, to pour, and to scoop such as a sandbox or a sand and water table
  • room to run and places where they can be loud and make messes
  • lots of time outdoors, no matter the season
  • a doll to nurture and love (for girls and for boys)
  • crayons, paper, clay and other simple art supplies
  • books and time spent being read to, every day if possible
  • a few simple games that encourage cooperation and sharing
  • rhythms and household routines that they can count on
  • preschoolers are curious about how things work, so museum experiences and objects that they can explore and even take apart are wonderful for this age

I’d love to hear from you!  Would you add anything to this list?  What are some of your favorite resources for preschoolers?

25+ Playful Preschool ActivitiesAre you looking for some ways to play and learn with your preschooler? The ebook Three to Five: Playful Preschool might be just what you’re looking for. Filled with ideas for creative, hands-on learning with math, science, and language skill builders plus art and play, too this ebook includes 10 printable resources and is available here.

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at

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  1. I love that they are so honest. (Well, most of the time, I love it) They really let you know how they feel about things and I it makes me so proud to hear my son express just how he is feeling and what he things about things. Such an important skill to have in life. I also love how silly they can be “knock, knock” jokes that he just makes us and are totally silly make us both laugh!
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  2. I love working with preschoolers and have the privilege of taking My Traveling Closet to a few every week. They are so excited about everything, so eager to learn. They are bursting with energy, questions and giggles. They are wonderful. Last Friday my 3 year old grandson said,”Thank you for learning us stuff grandma.” They are the best!!

  3. Great list. I think another thing I would add is the power of providing age appropriate choices. Trying to make my 3.5 year old do everything my way has resulted in lots of clashes. Giving her choices that don’t matter as much to me (e.g. do you want to do this activity inside or outside? or, do you want to wear the pink pants or the red pants?) has made life MUCH easier!
    Julie´s latest post: Enjoying books with kids

  4. I would add lots of time for questions and discussion with parents. My almost-four year old son is really into sorting everything out, and I can see the wheels turning as he makes connections when we talk.

    Great list. It is such a fun age, especially compared to the terrible twos!
    Audrey´s latest post: Book Review: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

  5. Oh ,how I love the preschool years!
    Thanks for the great ideas! I plan on using many in a couple of years when my littlest one is a preschooler!
    debbye´s latest post: How Down Time in the Crib Can Be Bad For Your Baby’s Sleep

  6. Preschool is SUCH a fun and challenging stage. Never a dull moment! Thank you for the reminder to savor it and to let them be little.
    Gina :: Listening in the Litany´s latest post: DIY Daily Routine Chart for Kids


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