Did you know that the capacity of the brain to absorb new learning peaks at age 3? Scientists have learned that a toddler’s brain develops over one hundred trillion brain synapses. A brain synapse is the "wiring" between two brain cells that grasps new learning. The more the synapses, the more your brain will learn! It is during this time that the human brain has the highest potential for new learning in its lifetime. Recognizing shapes, drawing, singing and playing with toys are all examples of behaviors your child learns in the first few years of life.
By their third birthday, your child should be able to do many things, including throw a ball overhand, feed themselves, ride a tricycle, balance on one foot or copy a circle, just to name a few. And by age 4, your child will begin knowing their first and last name, following family rules, recognizing colors, eating by themselves, dressing themselves, etc.
High-quality preschools and pre-kindergartens are geared to give your child a jumpstart to learning. Most have standards in place to prepare your child for kindergarten, so that on the first day of school, your child is ready to learn. You should expect your child to learn certain things in preschool, just as you would expect your elementary student to learn how to read and do basic math.
Appropriate early childhood programs not only help your child's brain develop in a timely fashion, they also contribute to physical, emotional and social development. Along with school readiness, it is also important to look for key developmental milestones in your children. Here’s a quick look at a few developmental milestones for 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds:
|AGE 2||AGE 3||AGE 4|
|Walk alone, jump, run||Tell stories with two or three sentences||Know first and last name|
|Kick a ball||Can name a friend||Copy a cross|
|Scribble with crayons||Throw a ball overhand||Eat by themselves|
|Imitate others||Copy a circle||Sing a song from memory|
To learn more, visit DCPS Early Stages, Zero to Three or GreatSchools, online resources Fight For Children recommends. Each website gives examples of developmental milestones in a format that makes it easy for families to assess how their child is doing.
High-quality preschools recognize the importance of providing an environment that teaches and nurtures children to learn these milestones and meet standards of learning. The D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education has released standards of learning for any child entering kindergarten, Early Learning Standards for Children Entering Kindergarten in the District of Columbia.