A better Medway

Milestones for 3 to 4 year olds

Here are the development milestones you should be looking out for if your child is aged between 3 and 4 years old:


  • likes listening to longer stories and remembers a lot of what happens 
  • uses lots of different words and likes learning new words
  • understands more complicated questions and instructions that have 2 parts like 'please get your coat and wait at the door’
  • understands when you ask them a question about why something has happened like ‘why do you think the caterpillar got so big?’
  • knows lots of nursery rhymes and songs and enjoys singing them
  • tells you long stories and talks about their favourite books
  • learning word endings, still making mistakes such as ‘runned’ for ‘ran’
  • learning to pronounce some words with tricky sounds like ‘j’, ‘th’, ‘ch’ and ‘sh’
  • using long sentence of 4 to 6 words
  • using words and actions to explain thoughts and ideas
  • can give their point of view and disagree 
  • likes having long conversations
  • pretend talking in play like 'let’s go on the bus…you sit there…I'll be the driver’.

Personal, social and emotional

  • becoming more independent
  • enjoys being given resources and activities they can use by themselves
  • likes responsibility and helping with jobs like fetching fruit for everyone or washing up their plate after a snack
  • more confident interacting with new people
  • confident to go out on short walks and trips
  • likes to play with other children and can build on ideas in their play
  • learning that rules are important and following them most of the time
  • remembers rules and doesn’t need an adult to remind them
  • learning to assert themselves in appropriate ways
  • talks to friends to solve problems that might happen when playing
  • uses different words to explain how they are feeling
  • starting to understand how other people might be feeling.


  • can use the toilet by themselves by 4 years old
  • keen to be independent, especially around dressing and feeding themselves
  • can do up buttons, zips and can pour themselves a drink
  • can brush their own teeth
  • can wash and dry their hands thoroughly.


  • developing physical skills like balancing, riding and ball skills
  • walking up steps, stairs and climbing equipment using alternate feet
  • can skip, hop, stand on one leg and hold a pose for a game like musical statues
  • can wave flags and streamers using large muscle movements
  • can paint and make marks on a big scale
  • likes to join in with group and team activities, sometimes making these up with their friends
  • learning to use and remember patterns of movement to music and rhythm
  • can think carefully about which movement they need to make, like whether to crawl, walk or run across a plank, depending on its length and width
  • can choose the right tools for what they need to do
  • can work with friends to move and carry large objects like big blocks
  • can use one handed tools such as scissors
  • having a comfortable grip and good control when holding pens and pencils
  • showing whether they are left or right handed.

For support to help your child reach these milestones, see our support for your child's development page.