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15 Ways to Describe a Four-Year-Old

Posted by on in Early Childhood
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After spending this past weekend with a delightful gaggle of four-year-olds, and given the fact that I have not been in the classroom teaching that age for quite a few years now, I was reminded what a great age it is. They’ve passed the terrible two’s and the challenging three’s, with the ever-present push for independence and frequent episodes of “FTN” (failure to negotiate). Four-year-olds are beginning to understand other people’s points of view, have more language to express themselves without frustration, and are more willing to cooperate.

If you are a teacher of four’s or have one in your home full time, you’ll definitely be able to identify with these:

1. Their cooperative play and sharing is better, unless their playmate wants to horn in on their turn. Then, it could get ugly.

2. Their attention span is longer. Not for everything, but definitely for videos.

3. They can spell and probably print their name.

4. They ask about what different words mean.

5. They listen to adults spell words in front of them and then ask what “A-@-@-H-O-L-E” spells, usually in a crowded restaurant in an outside voice.

6. They can remember routines much better, but will still resist parts of it they don’t like or will say they “forgot,” even though it’s repeated daily.

7. They can carry on a conversation pretty well now, but be prepared to only talk about Frozen or superheroes.

8. You’ll see your own behaviors, facial expressions, and gestures imitated with unbelievable accuracy, because they are paying close attention. This can be good or bad.


9. They like to be helpful… sometimes too helpful. They’ll want some props for the big help they’ve been- like forcing a banana peel down the bathroom drain, because they saw you do that in the kitchen.

10. They want to do everything by themselves, but still want you to watch them do everything.

11.They’re more willing now to try new foods, unless it “looks funny,” and then it’s totally out of the question.

12.They know how to operate the TV remote, your tablet, and your phone better than you do.

mom and girl on computer 1

13.They can get dressed by themselves, unless they’re told they can’t wear their swimsuit to Target in January.

14.They develop strong preferences (and dislikes) spontaneously. Yesterday they loved the blue pillowcase, but tonight they won’t have it anywhere near the bed and can’t believe you thought they ever liked it.

15.They are absolutely wonderful and they seem to be getting bigger every day. You know you must enjoy every minute before it’s gone.

cooking dad


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Debra Pierce is professor of Early Childhood Education at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Ivy Tech is the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college systems, serving nearly 200,000 students annually.

Her professional background has always involved children, over the past 40 years, having been a primary grades teacher in the Chicago Public School system, a teacher of 3 and 4 year-olds in a NAEYC accredited preschool for 15 years, and a certified Parent Educator for the National Parents as Teachers Program.

Debra is a certified Professional Development Specialist for the Council for Professional Recognition. She has taught CDA courses to high school career/tech dual credit juniors and seniors in preparation for earning their CDA credentials. She also conducts CDA train-the-trainer events across the country and develops and teaches online CDA courses for several states, is a frequent presenter at national and state early childhood conferences, and is a Master Trainer for the states of Minnesota and Arizona. She was also awarded the NISOD Teaching Excellence Award by the University of Texas.

Debra is active in her community, supporting children's literacy and is on the board of directors of First Book in Indianapolis. Debra is a contributing author for Hamilton County Family Magazine and Indy's Child in Indianapolis.
She loves spending time with her two grandsons, Indy, who is 7 and Radley, 3.

Debra has spent the last 16 years dedicated to the success of those pursuing the CDA credential and is the author of The CDA Prep Guide: The Complete Review Manual for the Child Development Associate Credential, now in its third edition (Redleaf Press), the only publication of its kind. She hosts a website providing help and support to CDA candidates and those who train them at http://www.easycda.com
The comments and views expressed are not in collaboration or affiliation with The Council for Professional Recognition or Ivy Tech Community College.
Follow me on Twitter at /easycda

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Guest Monday, 18 March 2019