What should your child learn in preschool by the time he is 3, 4, 5, and 6 years old?


A child’s capacity for learning in these pre-primary years is enormous. Preschool-age children learn from every experience, relationship, and adventure they encounter. Having the space and opportunity to explore objects and stimulating environments helps children develop their imagination and master the motor, cognitive, language, and social skills that are essential for future development.

Over the years our understanding of how children learn has become far more accurate and we now know that it is through their interactions with the environment that the connections in their brain develop. As parents we have a role to play in providing our children with the experiences which will benefit their learning and development best.

There is no clear answer to what a child should be learning or have achieved at a particular age. What we can do is identify the general milestones and desired outcomes for each year.

Chiltern House Preschool believes in the holistic development of each child and understands that children’s learning is dependent on their level of confidence and comfort. Each child has a unique learning style and range of abilities.

At the end of each year at Chiltern House Preschool there are a number of desired outcomes. These are broad and can be adapted to meet a child’s ability.

By the time a child is 3 years old he should be able to:By the time a child is 4 years old he should be able to:By the time a child is 5 years old he should be able to:By the time a child is 6 years old he should be able to:
Social and Emotional Development
  • Be at ease in the preschool setting
  • Approach new situations calmly
  • Tolerate slight frustration
  • Wait for a short while
  • Complete a task willingly
  • Accept limits set by adult
  • Accept limits set by adults
  • Separate from parents easily
  • Involve self in group activities
  • Approach new situations calmly and comfortably
  • Ask for assistance
  • Cope with new situations comfortably
  • Attempt to resolve simple conflicts positively
  • Able to work in groups
  • Be receptive to discipline
  • Able to take turns
  • Express their needs to adults and peers
  • Verbalise feelings
  • Control aggressive behaviour
  • Share
  • Work in pairs
Gross Motor Development
  • Run with coordination
  • Walk up and down stairs independently, using handrails for balance
  • Jump
  • Catch a rolling ball from close range
  • Throw a big ball to an adult
  • Climb confidently
  • Climb up and down stairs with alternating feet, using handrail for balance
  • Jump off low steps or objects
  • Peddle a tricycle
  • Dig with a spade
  • Confidently jump over low objects
  • Climb with confidence
  • Hop
  • Attempt to skip
  • Throw and catch a ball / bean bag
  • Attempt to bounce a ball
  • Attempt to skip using a skipping rope
  • Throw and catch a ball/bean bag
  • Run with coordination
  • Confidently jump over low objects
  • Maintain balance on objects for several seconds
Fine Motor Development
  • Exhibit good eye hand coordination
  • Tear and paste paper
  • Turn pages one at a time
  • Scribble in a circular motion
  • Use art material (e.g. glue bottles, paintbrush etc.) appropriately
  • Hold scissors with preferred hand
  • Pick up small objects
  • Improve their pencil control
  • To follow / trace over a stencil outline
  • Draw a basic shape e.g. circle or picture
  • Use correct scissor grip
  • Use scissors to snip and cut
  • Attempt to copy write letters and sentences using appropriate letter formation
  • Use implements to roll and cut out modeling materials
  • Attempt to write with correct pencil grip
  • To follow / trace over a stencil or template outline
  • Draw a basic shape e.g. circle or picture
  • Develop correct pencil grip
  • Develop firmer pencil grip
  • Cut with greater accuracy along straight, curved and jagged lines.
  • Copy write letters and sentences using appropriate letter formation
  • Make simple folds
Language and Literacy Development
  • Have an expanding vocabulary
  • Converse using short sentences
  • Anticipate parts of rhymes or songs
  • Pronounce most words clearly
  • Use ‘I’, ‘you’ and ‘mine’ appropriately
  • Understand and follow simple instructions
  • Answer who, what, when, where, why and how questions
  • Describe what they are seeing
  • Take turns in a conversation
  • Converse using short sentences
  • Take turns in a conversation
  • Identify and name the alphabet
  • Identify and name most phonic sounds
  • Answer simple comprehension questions
  • Follow two to three step instructions in sequence
  • Sequence a simple story
  • Read independently.
  • Write four to five sentences on their own.
  • Unscramble sentences on their own and answer comprehension questions
  • Think and create a story of their own.
  • Read instructions independently
Mathematical Understanding
  • Rote count 1 to 10
  • Give one more
  • Able to identify groups of objects 1 to 4
  • Recognise numerals 1 to 5
  • Compare size – big or little
  • Understand the language of ‘same, different or how many’
  • Identify, place and describe items in their position & direction
  • Have a basic understanding of opposites
  • Compare two objects in terms of size and length
  • Sequence basic events
  • Understand concept and number value up to 10
  • Identify and name most number words
  • Identify and create patterns
  • Compare more and less
  • Count in reverse order 10 to 0
  • Understand concept and number value up to 20
  • Understand number stories (the beginning of problem sums)
  • Understand the beginnings of chance and probabilities
  • Understand measurement of objects using non-units like toothpicks, ice cream sticks etc.
  • Estimate
  • Understand the use and function of analogue and digital clocks.
Aesthetic and Creative Awareness
  • Use a variety of materials / techniques for painting & printing
  • Use a variety of writing / drawing implements
  • Participate in a role play
  • Use props for symbolic and imaginative play
  • Explore colour mixing
  • Choose particular colours to use for a purpose
  • Experiment to create different textures
  • Use a variety of materials / techniques for painting & printing
  • Develop representational drawing
  • Explore colour mixing.
  • Experiment to create different textures
  • Explore and use a variety of materials / techniques for creating pictures & models.
  • Develop representational drawing.
  • Do detailed drawings
  • Do detailed drawings
  • Use a variety of writing/drawing implements.
  • Make models
  • Participate in a role- play.
  • Use props for symbolic and imaginative play
Science and Technology
  • Identify the computer components e.g. mouse, monitor & keyboard
  • Able to manipulate the mouse
  • Able to left click on the mouse
  • Able to locate letters on the keyboard
  • Use the spacebar
  • Record simple experiments
  • Follow step instructions for experiments
  • Identify the computer components e.g. mouse, monitor, CD ROMs, CPU & keyboard
  • Follow instructions given by programme
  • Use appropriate keys on the keyboard (e.g. spacebar, backspace, delete, shift or caps lock buttons)
  • Make predictions
  • Describe outcomes
  • Explain outcomes
  • Compare outcomes
  • Experiment with senses
  • Record simple experiments

This list is a sample of outcomes. It is by no means exhaustive but should give you an idea of what your child may be able to achieve each year. Please don’t forget each child is different and learns at a different rate. A child who is not able to grasp phonetic sounds in Nursery Two, may be the most advanced reader in her class by Kindergarten Two!

So, the most important thing to remember is that in a nurturing and understanding environment free from pressure, children will flourish and develop to their fullest potential.

To find out more on our kindergarten curriculum, contact us here.

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