During the first six to seven years of our lives, we are in a unique period of learning and development. During this phase of human growth we learn unconsciously from our environment. During the first three years of life, we learn to walk and talk along with a myriad of other skills unaware that we are learning.
During this initial phase of human development, there are critical periods for learning where certain skills will never again be so easy to acquire. These sensitive periods for learning include language, movement, social skills, refinement of sensory information, and perceiving order and relationships in the world.
A perfect time to assess important growth occurs as your child turns three-years-old.
It is an ideal moment to take a snapshot of your child’s progress. At 36 months every child should have specific skills that are well developed. Here is a quick checklist of tasks your three-year old should be able to perform. If your child is not exhibiting these skills at 36 months, it is time to look at what could be creating delays and addressing those issues.
Gross Motor Skills
- Walks well
- Throws ball overhead
- Jumps up
- Balances on each foot for 2 seconds
Fine Motor Skills
- Uses thumb finger grasp
- Builds a tower with two cubes
- Can draw a vertical line
- Can draw a circle
- Says own first name
- Answers to own name
- Speech is understandable to all
- Speaks in complete sentences
- Uses correct grammar, i.e.
- (says, I am going to the store and not me go store)
- Brushes teeth
- Sorts objects by category
- Uses fork and spoon
- Drinks from a cup
- Can put on t-shirt
- Can put on elastic waist pants
- Toilet trained
If your child is unable to do one or more of these activities, please discuss this with your pediatrician and think about some of the following:
- Does your child have any vision challenges?
- Is your child’s hearing clear?
- Is your child getting enough one-on-one language experience?
- Is your child being encouraged to do things by him or herself?
- Is your child watching two hours or less of television or video games?
- Does your child have enough opportunities for movement?
- Is your child’s diet providing important nutrition and energy?
The wonderful part of this stage of development is that it lasts for six years. When we look carefully at our child at age three, we have another three years to address any learning concerns by changing and enriching a child’s environment. Learning challenges addressed around age three are more likely to be short lived and not become a lifelong situation.
A child’s brain and body are developing at a rapid rate during the first six years of life. Providing opportunities to enrich daily experiences in vital areas can cover learning requirements in areas that may need additional nourishment and direction.
Take a few minutes and develop a snapshot of your child’s development.