|Type of paper:||Research paper|
|Categories:||Teaching Learning Child development|
Preschoolers: Ages 3-4 years old
Children undergo various developmental stages as they grow from infants to become young adults. There are different developmental stages seen in children such as parental stage of development, infancy and toddlerhood, early childhood period, middle childhood period, adolescence and adulthood period. Throughout each of this period, children encounter cognitive development basing on the environment raised and genetic characteristics of the parents (American Association of Pediatrics, 2018). Children aged between 3 to 4 years old are categorized within early childhood period (2 to 7 years), a period that sees so many developments regarding mental, physical, emotional, and language development. This paper aims to describe features of this age group and a description of stages of development based on Piaget and Erikson (Morrison, 1988). Furthermore, the paper will pinpoint designs, space and materials to be used to enhance development of children at the age of 3 to 4 years in preschool level.
Features of the 3-4 Year Olds
Children at the age of 3 to 4 years develop in three ways which are physical, cognitive and social-emotional way. It is considered a foundational stage that instills moral values, language development, and understanding of common interests in preschoolers (American Association of Pediatrics, 2018). However, it is characterized by rapid development and slow growth. Preschoolers in this age gap develop physical (motor) skills that lead into a sense of independence in small but substantial matters, for instance, gross motor skill at this stage is riding. Conversely, fine motor development skills seen in this stage are grasping, holding, eating, buttoning, and drawing some figures using their hands.
Social development entails learning to relate to other individuals in the environment while emotional development involves expressing feelings (American Association of Pediatrics, 2018). For example, children at this level learn to be aware of their sexuality, would agree on rules, become less egocentric, defiant and bossy, and show levels of independence and cooperative at times (CDC, 2018).
Language and cognitive development are two milestones connected during the development of a preschooler aged 3 to 4 years. Cognitive development in children is the stage when a child acquires knowledge and use it to reason, learn the language, and imagination that is essential in problem-solving tasks (CDC, 2018). Examples of notable milestones under this category are things such as differentiating colors, recalling stories narrated to the child, saying of names and addresses, counting of objects, identifying different objects used in the household and using future tenses in communication.
Figure 1: Two preschoolers aged 3 and 4 (American Association of Pediatrics, 2018)
Stages of Development According to Piaget and Erikson and their Implication for Teachers
Piaget theory of development takes into account the concept of accommodating and assimilating information during a child's developmental stages (Morrison, 1988). Children learn how to take new information in an immediate environment, modify the pre-existing information to fit the newly acquired information (Khanacademymedicine, 2013). Also, this theory explains how humans recognize and adapt to new information. Children at the age of 3 to 4 years are categorized within the second stage of Piaget theory known as a Preoperational stage (American Association of Pediatrics, 2018). At this stage, children begin relating with peers and other people outside the family setting.
This behavior means that their thoughts lack logical thinking since they only judge things by individual experiences (American Association of Pediatrics, 2018). Further development is through personification where children in this age group give human characteristics or feelings to various objects (Ehrman, 2016). Piaget theory affirms that children are more curious to learn cognitively during this period hence teachers and parents are encouraged to provide appropriate information that ensures that the children develop constructively based on the right information.
Conversely, Erikson proposed a theory that describes the development of children towards a healthy personality (Willcox, 2008). Erikson sentiments affirm that for a strong personality in children more emphasis should be put on the social and emotional traits of growth (Ehrman, 2016). As such, the theory concludes that development of children personalities derives from social environment response (Morrison, 1988). A similar case of their social interaction skills. Erikson theory has various stages. However, children at the age of 3 to 4 years can be best described under the third stage referred to as Initiative Versus Guilt (Morrison, 1988).
The Implication of acquiring various skills in early stages allows children are to learn constructive ways of relating with other people and things, for instance, taking the initiative to learn things without hurting others (CDC, 2018). Children realize that their actions influence the world thus due to personal initiatives, they realize that they can forget failures and concentrate on future accomplishments. Teachers in the long run have an easy time relating and educating the child in various stages easily.
Teachers, parents, and family members have a collective responsibility to set goals basing on Piaget and Erikson theories by ensuring that they respond to children appropriately for bright future development. The setting of realistic goals enriches children sense of self-worth.
Challenges do exist in the form of criticism, discouragement and control. Also, cultural diversity and distinct lifestyles from children background pose as a main challenge to teachers trying to educate children at this level using same syllabus.
A preschooler at an age of 3-4 years learns and develops in diverse human dimensions through early childhood programs with a goal of laying a foundation for later stages of development. According to Willcox (2008), children intelligence, social and emotional response, and physical health derive from earlier developmental tools, equipment, and social and emotional nurturing.
Designing an Indoor and Outdoor Space of 3 to 4 years Preschoolers
Just the same way adults feel frustrated when restricted in one area, children also require an environment that allows them to find what they need. As such, parents and teachers have a role to ensure homes and classrooms are designed in a way that impacts positive development and promotes a sense of exploration and engagement.
Indoor space for 3- 4 year olds preschoolers should be designed to cater to group activities. This space is vital in facilitating learning activities such as storytelling, acting, and other demonstrative learning. Places for privacy also allows preschoolers at this age to relax alone away from distraction (Morrison, 1988). Throughout the indoor environment, the aesthetics should reflect positive messages such as "good place to be" on the school walls to express the desired personality of the class.
Figure 2: An example of an appropriate indoor space for preschoolers (Colson, 2013)
Outdoor space is also vital in the development of kids since learning occurs both in and outside of the classroom. Safety comes first in outdoor spaces where high measures should be met to have an environment free from preventable risks. Safety is looked regarding surface, fall zones, and equipment used to play (Colson, 2013). Children in this area need to play in areas with an array of activities such as wheeled toys, woodworking, and construction. Lastly, outdoor areas should occupy enough space as possible and easily accessible to access walkways and stairs.
Figure 3: An illustration of a preschooler outdoor space (Colson, 2013)
Furniture, Equipment, and Toys used to Enhance Physical, Social and Mental Growth in The Age Group
Furniture, equipment, and toys are things that should match a child stage of development. Children at different stages develop through the use of equipment which is used in different ways at respective stages (Highscope, 2018). Preschoolers at the age of 3 to 4 have a longer attention span. Therefore some of the toys used during indoor activities are:
Problem-solving puzzles, picture books with words and detailed pictures, building blocks, Picture charts, educative DVD and music CD players. When using electronic toys, the teachers should make sure they are approved by Underwriters Laboratories (CDC, 2018)
Toys and equipment preferred in outdoor area are wheeled toys, bouncing castles, bouncing balls, bubble rings, just to mention a few. As such, safe toys are recommended which are customized with no sharp edges, splinters or pinch-free toys (Highscope, 2018). This toys should be nontoxic and thus painted with a lead-free paint considered as nontoxic.
Figure 4: Comfortable furniture used in preschool class designs (CDC, 2018)
American Association of Pediatrics, (2018). Developmental Milestones: 3 to 4 Year Olds. HealthyChildren.org. Retrieved 12 February 2018, from
CDC, (2018). CDC - Child Development, Preschooler (3-5 years old). NCBDDD. Cdc.gov. Retrieved 12 February 2018
Colson, B., (2013). Classroom Management Plans. Behavior Management Plan.
Ehrman R., (2016). "Disney Pixar and Erik Erikson's eight stages of Development." YouTube. Accessed from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iz-AeGMhzV0&app=desktop
Highscope, (2018). Perry Preschool Study. Highscope Educational Research Foundation. Retrieved from https://highscope.org/perrypreschoolstudy
Khanacademymedicine, (2013). "Piaget's stages of cognitive development." YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jt3-PIC2nCs
Morrison, G. S. (1988). Early childhood education today. Columbus, Ohio: Merrill Publishing Company.
Willcox, G., (2008). Child Development Principles and Theories. Longhorn Publishers.
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