3-5 years

The preschool period is one of transition as your child starts to get ready to go to school. It generally goes from 3 years to school entry. This period of your child’s life is a time where they are becoming independent and competent in doing things. Pre-schoolers have moved from the ‘what’s that’ stage, to wanting to know ‘who’ and ‘why’?

What to expect as a parent

You can expect to see some significant changes in your child around this time.  As well as becoming taller, they will begin using words creatively to tell stories.   At this age most children are feeding themselves, using the toilet (although many have the occasional accident) and they are able to wash themselves in the bath (under supervision).

How can I help my pre-schooler be more independent?

  1. Allow your preschooler to practice skills – helping set the table, getting dressed, brushing their hair and doing up sandals.
  2. Encourage your child to be social and enjoy the company of playmates.
  3. Ideally your child should be comfortable spending short periods of time away from you.

Looking after yourself

Whether this is your first or subsequent child, remember you are still new to the role of being a parent and therefore need to make allowances for making mistakes and learning from them.  It’s okay to get things wrong and ask for help. Talk to your local child and family health nurse or doctor if you have any concerns about your own health or your child’s (including mental health).

What’s is ‘normal development’ for a 3 or 4 year old child?

  • At three to four years of age most children are able to understand simple instructions and carry on a conversation.
  • They should easily be able to hold a pencil or texta and understand the concept of drawing.
  • At this age your child should be would play with a friend or an imaginary experience or friend.

What is ‘normal development’ for a 4 or 5 year old child?

  • At four to five years of age your child will enjoy lots of pretend play using props such as ‘dress ups’
  • Many children start writing their name at this age
  • Most children are able to dress themselves around this age


  • Avoid conflict by allowing your child at this age limited choices e.g. do you want a drink of water or milk?
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