Each child develops at their own pace, but there are certain skills that should be mastered at a certain age. In this article, we will focus on the development of a three-year-old child. What should such a toddler already know? What should we pay attention to and what should we be concerned about? I will try to answer these questions in a few words.
A child’s development takes place in several areas: physical and motor, emotional and social, and cognitive. In the third year of life, the child should, in terms of fine motor skills, draw a vertical and horizontal straight line, a cross and a circle from a pattern. This means that if an adult draws such things, the child should recreate them. At this age, children are able to build a tower of eight elements and insert blocks of various shapes into the appropriate holes. They also start using scissors and are happy to play with plasticine or modeling clay. The young human’s independence is also developing. He/she begins to perform basic hygiene activities, such as using the toilet or washing hands, and uses a spoon, fork and cup.
In terms of gross motor skills, it is noticeable that the child begins to walk alternately, e.g. going down or up stairs. He/she can also stand on one leg for a while. He/she walks on the wall and rides a three-wheeled bicycle. The ability to control your body is also improved. It starts to move more stably in space and there is no problem with using various equipment on the playground. He/she can also kick and throw the ball with balance. Children of this age like to listen to music and play to it. So you can observe that he is running, jumping or dancing as soon as he hears music in the background.
In terms of communication, he/she begins to say more and more words and form sentences. He/she is able to answer a simple question. He/she can also focus on the proposed activity for a long time, even up to about 10 minutes. He/she also reports his physiological needs, such as hunger or the need to use the toilet.
The 3-year-old is also getting better and better in the area of cognition. He eagerly gets to know his surroundings and learns new things. Due to the high plasticity of the brain, he is able to master new skills in a short time. He willingly creates structures from blocks or begins to use logical toys to play. It names the colors correctly and determines what clothes should be worn for a specific weather. He also draws simple conclusions from the observation of the surrounding reality. It also slowly enters the world of imagination. So it can start giving human features to objects or toys. At this time, the first fears may also appear, e.g. of fairy-tale characters, darkness or sudden sounds.
Development is also visible in the social area. The three-year-old pays more attention to his peers, although the play may still be of a parallel nature – children play side by side, even with the same toys, but do not start to cooperate with each other yet. The ability to imitate also becomes of great importance in this period. Children, through the observation of adults and peers, begin to master the rules of the group and the rules that are the basis of various games.
Changes can also be seen in emotional development. The sight of a sad or crying child makes the three-year-old want to console him. Emotions that emerge during this period appear strong, intense and are characterized by high variability.
So what should start to worry us about the child’s development? The key issues related to this include:
1) Difficulty maintaining balance and frequent falls and tipping over;
2) Lack of stabilization when climbing and descending stairs;
3) Difficulty speaking, visible delay in speech development, or the appearance of hard-to-understand and slurred speech;
4) Lack of skills related to playing with simple toys;
5) Difficulty understanding simple commands;
6) Difficulty establishing contact with peers;
7) Difficulty maintaining eye contact or focusing on some activity;
8) Not understanding playing pretend.
If there are any disturbing issues, it is always worth discussing them first with teachers, and then making a thorough diagnosis of the child in a psychological and pedagogical clinic or other therapeutic office in order to be able to establish forms of support for the child’s development. The sooner they are implemented, the sooner positive effects can be noticed.