South Rowan Academy of Child Development, LLC

Know Your Child’s Developmental Stages

By Serena Edwards

Do you know what your child should be learning and when? Are you aware of when your child should know shapes and colors, numbers and how to recognize his name?

These are called developmental milestones and they includes skills such as naming colors, hopping on one foot, and showing affection. Children read these milestones at roughly the same time; however, some children will be faster or slower.

It is important for parents of toddlers and preschoolers to know about these important milestones and to be aware if their child is not reaching them. There are many resources available for children with mild to severe learning disabilities.

1 to 2 Years Old

At this age, your child will begin talking a little and understanding words and facial expressions. The following are some other milestones and experiences children ages 12 to 24 months will begin doing:

Social & Emotional

  • Hands objects to others
  • Has temper tantrums
  • Shows affection to some and may be afraid of strangers
  • Plays simple pretend

Language & Communication

  • Says single words
  • Shakes head “no” and says “no”
  • Points to show what he wants

Cognitive (Learning, Thinking, & Problem-Solving)

  • Knows ordinary items such as brush or spoon
  • Points to get the attention of others
  • Points to one body part
  • Scribbles on her own
  • Can follow 1-step verbal commands

Movement & Physical Development

  • Walks alone; may walk up steps and run
  • Pulls toys while walking
  • Can help undress himself
  • Drinks from a cup and eats with a spoon

Some positive things you can do to help your toddler at this time in her life include:

  1. Read to your child daily
  2. Ask him to find objects or name body parts and objects
  3. Encourage her to try new things and explore
  4. Help develop your child’s language by talking to him and adding to words
  5. Encourage her to start dressing and feeding herself
  6. Tell or show your child what he should do instead of what he shouldn’t do
  7. Play matching games like simple puzzles or sorting shapes
  8. Take field trips together to encourage your child’s curiosity and ability to recognize common objects
2 to 3 Years Old

Children who are this age start learning skills such as following 2-3-step directions, sorting objects by shape and color, imitating others, and expressing a wide range of emotions. Some other milestones children ages 2 to 3 years old will experience:

Social & Emotional

  • Copies others
  • Gets excited when with other children
  • Does what he has been told not to do
  • Plays beside other children; begins to include others in games
  • Shows more independence

Language & Communication

  • Says sentences of 2-4 words
  • Follows simple instructions
  • Repeats words she hears in conversations
  • Points to things or pictures when they are named and points to things in books
  • Knows the names of familiar people and body parts

Cognitive (Learning, Thinking, & Problem-Solving)

  • Begins to sort shapes and colors
  • Plays simple make-believe games
  • Builds towers of four or more blocks
  • Names items in a picture book
  • Follows 2-step instructions

Movement & Physical Development

  • Kicks a ball and throws a ball overhand
  • Climbs onto and from furniture
  • Walks up and down stairs holding on
  • Stands on tiptoe
  • Makes or copies lines and circles

Some positive things you can do to help your 2-year-old at this time in his life include:

  1. Encourage your child to participate in pretend play
  2. Play parade or follow-the-leader with your child
  3. Set up a time to read books with your child
  4. Help her explore by taking her on a walk or wagon ride
  5. Encourage your child to tell you his name and age
  6. Sing simple songs with her
  7. Give him attention and praise when he follows instructions and shows positive behavior
  8. Teach your child acceptable ways to show that she’s upset
3 to 5 Years Old

Social & Emotional

By 3 years old:

  • Copies others and takes turns
  • Shows concern and affection to friends
  • Understands “mine” and “his” or “hers”
  • Shows a wide range of emotions
  • May get upset with major routine changes
  • Dresses and undresses self

By 4 years old:

  • Enjoys doing new things
  • More creative in make-believe play
  • Would rather play with other children than alone
  • Talks about what he likes and is interested in

By 5 years old:

  • Wants to please and be like her friends
  • Likes to sing, dance, and act
  • Is aware of gender
  • Shows more independence
  • Is sometimes demanding and sometimes cooperative

Language & Communication

By 3 years old:

  • Follows 2-3 step instructions
  • Names most familiar things
  • Says first name, age, and gender
  • Talks well enough for strangers to understand
  • Carries on a conversation using 2-3 sentences

By 4 years old:

  • Knows some basic grammar rules
  • Sings a song or says a poem from memory
  • Tells stories
  • Can say first and last name

By 5 years old:

  • Speaks clearly and tells simple stories using full sentences
  • Uses future tense
  • Says name and address

Cognitive (Learning, Thinking, & Problem-Solving)

By 3 years old:

  • Can work with buttons, levers, and moving parts
  • Plays make-believe with dolls, animals, and people
  • Does 3-4-piece puzzles
  • Copies a circle with a pencil or crayon
  • Turns book pages one at a time
  • Builds towers with more than 6 blocks
  • Screws and unscrews jar lids and turns door handles

By 4 years old:

  • Names colors and some numbers
  • Understands counting and the concept of time
  • Remembers parts of a story
  • Draws a person with 2-4 body parts
  • Uses scissors
  • Copies some capital letters
  • Plays board or card games

By 5 years old:

  • Counts 10 or more items
  • Draws a person with at least 6 body parts
  • Prints some letters or numbers
  • Copies a triangle and other shapes
  • Knows about items used daily (money and food)

Movement & Physical Development

By 3 years old:

  • Climbs and runs easily
  • Pedals a tricycle
  • Walks up and down stairs, one foot on each step

By 4 years old:

  • Catches a bounced ball most of the time
  • Pours, cuts with supervision and mashed food
  • Hops and stands on one foot up to 2 seconds

By 5 years old:

  • Hops and may be able to skip or do a somersault
  • Uses a fork and spoon and sometimes a table knife
  • Can use the toilet on his own
  • Swings and climbs
  • Stands on one foot for 10 seconds or longer

Some positive things you can do to help your 3 to 5-year-old at this time in her life include:

  1. Continue to read to your child and take her to the library or bookstore
  2. Let your child help with simple chores
  3. Encourage your child to play with other children
  4. Be clear and consistent with discipline and explain and show the expected behavior
  5. Speak to him in complete sentences and use grown-up words. Help her use the correct words
  6. Help your child solve problems when he is upset
  7. Give her a limited number of simple choices to choose from


Preschool vs. Daycare: Which is Better for Your Child?

There are many different schools of thought about the differences between “preschool” and “daycare.” We get phone calls often from questioning parents and guardians asking, “Are you a daycare or a preschool?” My answer, most of the time, is “What are you looking for?” I have heard so many definitions of these terms over the 12 years I have been in this industry that it seems to get more and more confusing as time goes on.

Even doing a simple Google search results in a wide variety of definitions. If you a childcare worker, the term “daycare” seems almost demeaning to their career choice, bringing back images of workers merely “babysitting.” Licensed childcare is definitely not “babysitting,” but many parents are unsure of what it really is and how they are to know if it is a good choice for their child.

Let me share with you what we are, which is a combination of “preschool” and “daycare” definitions and you can decide for yourself.

Daycare Qualities

The official definition of “daycare” according to Merriam-Webster, is “supervision of and care of children…provided during the day.” Specifically, daycares typically offer full-time care (8-9 hours/day) for infants through preschool-age. Most agree that daycares focus is on taking care of children, including mealtime, naptime, and playtime. The focus is not necessarily on education. Many daycares are also open during holidays.

South Rowan Academy (SRA) has many of these characteristics. We are a full-time childcare center offering care for a maximum of 10 hours a day, though we are actually open 11.5 hours/day. We care for young toddlers (12 months) to preschoolers (5 years). We are closed on most main holidays, but open for many school closing days.

The main difference is our focus. We also have meals, naptime, and playtime (as required by state law) through the use of the Creative Curriculum. This “curriculum” is actually learning through play. Our classrooms are set up in centers, such as dramatic play, manipulatives, library, science, and so on. North Carolina requires a substantial part of the day to be spent in centers by children.

Preschool Education

The “preschool” definition according to Merriam-Webster is “a school for children usually younger than those attending elementary school or kindergarten.” Preschools are schools catering to children ages three to five, usually open shorter hours during the day. They are closed during holidays and school breaks.

The main difference in “preschool” and “daycare” is that preschools focus on education and child development. Many use age-appropriate curriculum and some have methodologies such as Montessori, Reggio Emilio, or religious methods.

SRA is also considered a preschool in that we not ONLY focus on child safety and care, we also incorporate educational curriculum for all ages. We offer a specific age-appropriate curriculum for our young toddlers that helps them develop gross and fine motor skills. It also provides music, language, and art.

We use a Christian-based curriculum for our 2-5-year-olds that is developed for each age group and teaches them phonics, numbers, colors, letters, and shapes. Pre-kindergartners learn letter sounds, name recognition, reading, and writing to prepare them for kindergarten.

Daycare AND Preschool

Both daycare and preschools require licensing and many are accredited. We have a four-star license, which means our facility has voluntarily met higher program standards and higher staff education levels.

SRA combines the best of daycare and preschool by offering working parents full-time care with quality curriculum and teachers with Early Childhood credentials.  However, we also allow your child to be a child and learn through play while taking care of their basic needs. As early childhood professionals, we just prefer to be called a quality childcare center, instead of a “daycare” or a “preschool.”  As far as which is best, you be the judge!

By Serena Edwards

Serena Edwards has worked at South Rowan Academy since 2006. She has been the Office Manager there since 2008. She is married to her soul mate, Kemp Edwards, and has three kitties.  She is starting a resume-writing business on the side to help people project their best selves in their hunt for the right job/career.