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. 

Brain Building

Learn through life's everyday moments

Invent a super secret handshake for you and your child. Take turns adding a step (like shaking twice). Repeat it until you both have it down. Now change one of the steps. How do they respond? Go back and forth between the new and old way.

See what your child is learning

Creating and learning a super secret handshake helps your child remember and do what is needed to achieve a goal. This is a big step in learning self-control.

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 (such as 1 cup of breakfast cereal plus 1 large tortilla)
    • Have 1 ½ cups of vegetables daily (such as 3 medium carrots)
    • Have 1 to 1 ½ cups of fruits daily (such as 1 medium or large apple OR 1 to 1 ½ cups 100% fruit juice)
    • Have 2 ½ cups of milk daily
    • Have 4 ounces of meat and beans daily (such as 1 small chicken breast plus 1 egg)
    • Have 1 hour of adult-led physical activity
    • Sleep about 10–13 hours per day
    • Stay on schedule with shots

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 for 3 & 4 year olds

EarlyLearn NYC Head Start

NYC Department of Education

Eight hours a day of free early care and education for three and four year olds

Free Pre-K for four-year-olds

Pre-K for All (Pre-K)

NYC Department of Education

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

Events

See what your family can do for free in NYC

Pre-School Storytime

10:30 AM - 11:00 PM
Preschoolers from 3 to 5 years old and their parents or caregivers can enjoy new and classic picture books, action songs, and related activities, and meet other preschoolers in the neighborhood.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum – Pay as You Wish

2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Take your kids to visit the Brooklyn Children's Museum to enjoy fun, educational exhibits. Pay as you wish on Thursday and Sunday afternoons!

Family Storytime

10:30 AM - 11:15 AM
Children ages 2 - 5 and their parent or caregiver are invited to listen to stories, sing, dance, and do finger plays.