Your 3 1/4-year-old
The power of play
Now that your child’s three, it’s time to get down to the serious work of learning, right? Actually, whether you realize it or not, your big kid spends his whole day learning — by playing. When he does puzzles, builds towers, or runs around at the playground, he’s busy exploring his physical world. And, when he plays with friends, siblings, or Grandpa, he’s learning about cooperation and sharing.
When we think about brain power, we tend to think about intelligence and knowledge. But what really sets a child up for learning, life skills — even being happy — is a set of abilities that psychologists call executive function. Learn more about it (hint: if you’ve had a tea party recently, or pretended to go hunting for dinosaurs, you’re on the right track). If you want to make sure your child’s learning as much as he can, jump in and play right along with him. You’ll get a fascinating glimpse into what he’s interested in, what he finds exciting, maybe even what he’s afraid of.
Have parents lost the art of playing with their kids? Some think so.
Your handy kid
You may have noticed that your child is getting better at using those little hands of his. He’s probably great at feeding himself and maybe even doing up his own buttons and zippers. Some kids take longer to develop those fine motor skills, but practise makes perfect!
Try some of these ideas to help your child develop dexterity:
· Painting with large brushes on big pieces of paper
· Manipulating clay
· Doing jigsaw puzzles
· Tossing beanbags
· Building with blocks
· Threading beans
· Easy dress-up in play clothes
The potty-training blues
If you feel like your child is the only one who’s not potty-trained, relax. While some kids take to the toilet easily, others take their time — and many take even longer for #2! Also remember that many children won’t stay dry at night until they are at least four. (Bedwetting is even common amongst five-year-olds.)
For tips on how to encourage your child, check out our toilet training basics.
A new baby?!
Is your big kid about to become a big brother or sister? Talking to your preschooler early on about what babies do — lots of eating, sleeping and crying, in the beginning — will help him understand what to expect and avoid some disappointment. Let him know that while the baby won’t be much fun to play with right away, in the year ahead he can look forward to a having a lively playmate.
Read more about preparing your first-born for a sibling.
Zoom! If your child doesn’t already have one, now’s the perfect time to get a tricycle (and don’t forget a helmet to go with it). Don’t worry if it takes him a while to get the hang of peddling — it’s tricky!
If you think your child’s ready for it, you might also get a strider, or balance bike. These two-wheelers are low to the ground but don’t have pedals. Instead, your child just pushes himself with his feet and learns to balance along the way, eliminating the need for training wheels altogether.
Before you know it, he’ll be zipping over to the library on his bike with you. Hopefully you’ll be able to keep up!