4 Years

Discover tips, tools, and support for this age

Your child’s speaking and social skills will continue to grow during this year in Pre-K! Keep spending time with and talking to them. Your time together will help your four-year-old learn as they begin to repeat their first and last name, tell stories, and describe their experiences. 

Scroll down to learn more about your child’s development, explore early education, and find free events for families in NYC.

 

The Early Childhood Family Toolkit

The Early Childhood Family Toolkit is a growing collection of our favorite resources for families with young kids. Discover learn-at-home tips and activities, health support, and more—all chosen by the NYC Department of Education.

 

Explore our favorite family resources

Brain Building

Learn through life's everyday moments

Have your child collect items like rocks and leaves. Arrange them in a pattern such as one rock, two leaves, one rock, two leaves. Then mix them up and ask your child to recreate your pattern. Can they remember the order? Have them take a turn making a simple pattern for you to remember.

See what your child is learning

Finding and repeating patterns builds focus and memory. It is a great way to make connections and solve problems. These are all important skills for learning. Playing with patterns also builds math skills like comparing sizes, numbers, and shapes.
Vroom

Milestones

Skills children develop as they play, learn, speak, act, and move are called milestones. Learn about milestones to help you understand your child's development and act early if you have concerns.

Around 4 years old, many children:

  • Social

    • Enjoy doing new things
    • Play games where they pretend to be "Mom" or "Dad"
    • Get more creative with make-believe play
    • Prefer to play with other children than alone
    • Cooperate with other children
    • Often can't tell what's real and what's make-believe
    • Talk about what they're interested in
  • Communication

    • Know some basic rules or grammar, such as how to use "he" and "she"
    • Sing a song or say a poem from memory, like "Itsy Bitsy Spider"
    • Tell stories
    • Say their first and last name
    • Answer questions, show understanding, and follow directions better
    • Describe experiences and express thoughts and feelings better
  • Learning

    • Learn through playing
    • Are able to tell reality from fantasy better
    • Quickly develop thinking skills like predicting, comparing, and reasoning
    • Name some colors and some numbers
    • Understand the idea of counting
    • Start to understand time
    • Remember parts of a story
    • Understand the idea of "same" and "different"
    • Draw a person with 2–4 body parts
  • Physical Development

    • Hop and stand on one foot up to 2 seconds
    • Catch a bounced ball most of the time
    • Pour liquid, mash own food, and use scissors with supervision
  • Health

    • Have 5 ounces of grains daily, including whole grains daily (1 ounce equals ½ cup oatmeal, ½ cup of rice, 5 whole wheat crackers, 1 slice of whole wheat bread, or ½ cup cooked pasta).
    • Have 1 ½ cups of vegetables daily (such as ½ cup baby carrots, ½ cup broccoli, and ½ avocado).
    • Have 1 ½ cups of fruits daily (such as 1 small apple, ½ large banana, and ½ cup chopped berries). Fresh, frozen, canned or dried all count.
    • Have 4 ounces of protein foods daily (1 ounce equals 1 egg, ¼ cup of beans or lentils, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, or ¼ cup tofu). Protein foods include beans, lentils, tofu, nuts and nut butters, poultry, fish, eggs and meat.
    • Have 2 ½ cups of dairy or suitable substitute daily. This includes whole cow’s milk, whole plain yogurt, or unsweetened fortified soy beverage.
    • Drink water between meals for thirst.

Act early by talking to a doctor, teacher, or social worker if your child:

  • Act Early

    • Can't jump in place
    • Has trouble scribbling
    • Shows no interest in interactive games or make believe
    • Ignores other children or doesn't respond to people outside the family
    • Resists dressing, sleeping, and using the toilet
    • Can't retell a favorite story
    • Doesn't understand "same" and "different"
    • Doesn't use "me" and "you" the right way

Programs

Find the support your family needs to thrive

Head Start

NYC Department of Education (DOE)

Care and education for 3-4 year-olds from low-income families

Head Start programs are free and run year-round for at least eight hours a day.

Pre-K for All (Pre-K)

NYC Department of Education (DOE)

Free Pre-K for four-year-olds

Enroll your child in a free, full-day, high-quality Pre-K program.