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What Comes After the Toddler Stage?

by Eliza Martinez

Once your child passes her third birthday, she's not a considered a toddler anymore. Instead, she's entering the wonderful world of a preschooler. This stage lasts until your little one turns 5. It's only two years, but the span between her third and fifth birthdays brings huge strides in all areas of development. Knowing what to expect can help you get through the years with fond memories, despite the often difficult-to-manage phases that exist during the preschool years.

Emotional and Social Development

During the preschool years, your little one is learning to read emotional cues and is getting better at relating to other people, according to the New York University Child Study Center. He can empathize with others and make friends with other children his own age. By his fifth birthday, your preschooler often seeks friends of the same gender and shows a preference for playing with other children, rather than adults. Your preschooler also engages in pretend play and can probably tell the difference between reality and fantasy, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Physical Development

There's a big difference between a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old. During the preschool years, your child develops in many physical ways. She goes from toddling around unsteadily to being able to jump, stand on one foot, walk up and down stairs and walk backward, according to the New York University Child Study Center. By the time she's 5, your little one should also be able to ride a tricycle, build a block tower, paint on paper, skip, throw a ball, dress and undress and begin drawing recognizable objects, adds the University of Illinois Extension.

Cognitive Development

During the preschool years, your little one makes huge steps in cognition. By the time he enters kindergarten, he'll be able to name colors, count, gain a rudimentary sense of time, follow three-step directions, recall a story and understand differences, according to the AAP. Your preschooler is likely able to draw detailed pictures of people, sort objects, name opposites, name the seasons, memorize simple lists and write some letters and numbers, notes the NYU Child Study Center.

Language Development

When your child was a toddler, you probably spent several minutes deciphering what she was trying to tell you. During the preschool stage, you'll be able to understand what she's saying to you. She improves her grammar, uses five- to six-word sentences and tells stories, according to the AAP. Your preschooler might also tell jokes, use silly words, act out stories, ask questions, have a conversation, understand comparative words, understand sequencing and express herself using inflection when she talks, adds the NYU Child Study Center.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

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