I subscribe to the Raising Children Network, an Australian site that has a vast amount of information on the development of children, and also a series of online forums that cover every aspect of not only kid’s development, but parenting as well.
Every now and then I get a subscribed message in my email inbox with a short snapshot of where my children ‘should’ be at in their individual development. The advice is well presented, and has often been quite timely, as the kids have ticked off a few milestones in their so far short lives.
The snapshots of where Grace is at at different milestones have often been interesting reading. Frankly, there’s been a bit of pain involved, as at times, within the bell-shaped curve of ‘normal’, Grace rings a different kind of bell. But when I do check where she’s at – and yes, even though she’s only 3 and a half, give her time – Gracie isn’t that wide of the mark in her development.
In a nutshell, from the Raising Children Network site info on Preschoolers, this is what a 3 to 4 year old is up to:
“Three-year-olds increasingly know what they want and can express what that is” – Gracie always knows what she wants, she just has an unconventional method of expression.
“She’ll persist with a wider variety of tasks, activities and experiences, and will keep working to complete a task even if it’s a bit tricky” – oh yeah, that’s Gracie all right!
“Your child is continuing to seek and engage in sensory and other experiences. She’ll enjoy listening to stories, playing with friends and going on trips to new places” – yep, Gracie loves story-time in the evening, she loves playing with her 8 year old cousin Tayla, and Gracie is always up for a new experience.
“Your child is becoming more flexible in problem-solving and thinking through alternative options” – just 2 days ago, after her Monday morning swimming class she put on her own shoes; she just kept trying until she got them on.
“He’ll still understand many more words than he says” – am I blind to continue to believe that’s the case for Gracie? She continues to seemingly understand simple conversations connected to simple actions, such as eating, bathtime, play, and so on.
“Your child might begin to use more complex sentences that include words such as ‘because’ and ‘that’” – Mmm, not yet.
“At this age, your child might tell stories that follow a theme and often have a beginning and end” – ditto.
“She’ll understand directions that have more than two steps, as long as they’re about familiar things” – absolutely, for example, ‘Gracie, could you get the box of tissues and take them to Mummy?’, yes, she can understand and do that without any problem.
“From 3-4 years, your child will show more control and balance when he walks, climbs, jumps, hops, marches and gallops” – not yet, but Gracie loves the local adventure playground.
“Your child will be better at balancing, allowing her to ride a tricycle or bicycle with training wheels” – Gracie’s balance is still a bit wonky, but she doesn’t know the meaning of ‘give up’. At her Monday swimming class, one of the activities involves the kids climbing out of the pool, walking along the side, then out over the water on a floating rubber mat to jump in the water. Like a character from The Thunderbirds, Gracie slowly gets herself out, staggers along the side of the pool holding my hand, then flops onto the mat to slide in the pool. She’ll keep having her turn, when some of the other kids have already given up.
“Children this age are becoming more independent too, as they begin to have real friendships with other children. They’re also learning to recognise the causes of feelings and will give simple help, such as a hug, to those who are upset” – I’ll never forget the time Gracie consoled her big brother Max, who was experiencing a tearful episode of self-pity one day. Sitting on the lounge-room floor at home he was balling his eyes out. Gracie came into the room, sat on the floor next to him, reached into a nearby basket of washing and dabbed his streaming eyes with a shirt, then stroked his arm. Priceless.
“At three, your child will show an interest in other children and copy what they do” – oh yeah, Gracie loves her big brother to bits, and if he’s doing something that looks vaguely grown up, she’ll copy it, especially at the dinner table. It occasionally frustrates Max, but he doesn’t really mind.
And the one thing Gracie loves to do above all else?
Gracie loves to dance.
Here are a couple of examples; the first one is when Max was having dance classes (although he’s since moved on to a children’s performing arts company).
And this one’s the most recent, Gracie as the Singin’ In The Rain Fairy. And big brother Max gets in on the dancing action too.
Priceless, and precious…