Development of a Three Year Old

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According to Piaget, the three-year-old is in the preoperational stage of development. One main characteristic of a three-year-old is their egocentric, or self-centered, thinking. They believe that everyone sees the world as they do. They also tend to fix on one aspect of a situation and ignore others, and they cannot mentally reverse a series of events or steps. The typical three-year-old stands about 34 to 43 inches in height and weighs 25 to 44 pounds with a more adult-like appearance. They have a full set of baby teeth and usually sleep through the night without wetting the bed. As the three-year-old grows, they need nurturing environments with developmentally appropriate practices where they feel safe and loved and can thrive in all developmental areas. These areas of development include gross and fine motor, cognitive, language and social emotional. As we continue to look at the three-year-old, we will review the typical development in these areas. Fine motor skills include the child's ability to use small muscles in coordination with the eyes. The fine motor skills of a three-year-old might include holding a spoon, turning pages of a book, drawing simple shapes, using crayons, cutting with scissors, and building an 8-block tower. Fine motor development contributes to communication skills; such as handwriting. Fine motor skills are necessary for mastery of handwriting. Gross motor skills include the child's ability to use large muscles. Typical gross motor skills of a three-year-old might include running, throwing and catching a large ball, hopping, climbing, and pedaling a tricycle. Gross motor skills usually develop before fine motor. Play becomes a major factor in the area of gross motor skills by enhancing muscle development and body control. Children at this age are interested in perfecting their motors skills and will spending hours climbing the jungle gym, sliding or riding their tricycle. Cognitive development is the child's ability to learn and solve problems. Language is an important area of cognitive development. The use of open-ended questions helps to raise a child's thinking. The three-year-old can answer simple questions, identify different shapes and colors, and begins to take an interest in the alphabet. According to Piaget, their thinking is self-centered and they tend to see the world only from their perspective and rarely see another's point of view. Their understanding starts and stops with what they see; logic does not yet come into play. They have developed symbolic thought and begin to use simple classification; such as cows, chickens and dogs are animals. They learn through watching the world and increase their attention spans through exploration and examination. Cognitive development is enhanced through dramatic play. The three-year-old is in the period of symbolic representation. As they take on roles of someone else, they must try to think and behave in the manner of the pretend character. Language development is the child's ability to understand and use language. At age three, children are usually skilled conversationalists and language becomes a major focus for development. They are able to takes turns in speaking, make eye contact, respond appropriately and maintain a topic. A favorite activity for a three-year-old is to ask "why" and will probably ask it over and over again. They want to know the causes for the things going on around them. Their vocabulary continues to grow during this age. At age three, 75-80% of speech is understandable and most can speak in sentences of three to five words. They can use grammar well; putting nouns before verbs and adjectives before nouns. They may also show signs of stuttering. Language takes on forms such as oral, written, gestural, facial expressions and physical. Play situations provide a rich source of information on language. Young children are found to display more advanced oral language during...
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