Care Stages: How does my preschooler/kindergartener grow?

Ages 3 to 6

Asian mother and daughter reading a book

Preschoolers and kindergarteners truly feel like little citizens of the world. They mature physically by becoming little beanpoles, and they also become more independent and develop more complex skills.

During this preschool/kindergarten years, here are the major developments that parents and babysitters/nannies will face:

  • Feeding
  • Picky eating and a love of junk food typically prevail during this time. It is important to continue to expose kids to healthful food options. Eating well yourself, and eating together as a family, can help encourage good eating habits.

  • Sleeping
  • Your child will eventually give up the day nap. Encourage quiet time at some routine point during the day to foster peacefulness and a restful period. Stay firm with your bedtime routine, as kids often start resisting bedtime due to curiosity and a desire to practice all the skills they are learning.

  • Communication
  • Encourage evolving language skills by reading with your child, enjoying his creative story telling, and helping him learn letters and numbers.

  • Emotion
  • Kids become more independent and separation becomes easier. They also start to understand empathy. Encourage expression of emotion and understanding of others' emotions.

  • Cognition and socialization
  • As with toddlers, continue to fuel physical, cognitive, and social needs with plenty of physical play and engagement in creative activities such as art, music and pretend play both alone and with little friends. Continue to set boundaries around behavior, such as aggression, and to foster independent skills, such as hygiene habits. Discuss strangers and being careful out in the world.

  • Potty
  • During this time, kids eventually will become completely dry all day through their nap then all night. Encourage continued independence in using the potty and good hygiene habits.

Consistency and creativity are required to help preschoolers and kindergarteners develop during this time. It will be key to identify a caregiver who can follow your lead on how to handle behavioral issues and who will be creative and engaged in fostering your child's physical, cognitive, and social development.

Christine Koh is a music and brain scientist turned parent and writer about parenting issues for She is also the editor of

* This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan.  Neither nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.

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