A developmental milestone is something a typically developing child should do within a certain age range. There are many types of milestones. A few examples might be: the way your child plays with other people, how many words they use, whether they can feed or dress themselves, and how they move their bodies. As they get older, milestones include how well they read and write and classroom behavior too.
Developmental lists on this page explain what a typically developing child should do at 3 years and older.
From 3 to 5 years, a typically developing preschool child should become much more social and independent. During this time, developmental milestones include many skills like recognizing letters of the alphabet, counting, potty training, and imaginary play. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a number of specific milestones for age 3 to 5 years.
Call your doctor if, by 5 years, your child:
When your child moves into the school years, a lot changes for them.
School is a very different environment than your home, preschool, Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) experience, or a day care setting. Expectations for children change. They’re expected to sit still, follow a schedule, learn to read and write, and adjust to a new group of children. As a result, developmental milestones will expand to include reading, writing, and math skills – plus the ability to pay attention.
Many children find it hard to adjust to school in the first few weeks or months. But, if your child is missing important milestones, those problems will keep going beyond those early months.
Your child’s teacher will be a great resource for you in helping to know if there is something that you need to look into. They might even be the first to see that a child is not developing in the typical ways.
If your child’s teacher does bring something up with you, it might be really hard to hear. It might even be completely different than what you’ve seen at home. It’s natural for a child to act one way at school and differently at home. So, getting a second opinion from a doctor or professional can be a really good idea if you or your child’s teacher notices the following signs about your child:
If you believe your child needs extra help in the classroom, your school can help you figure out a plan. Talk to your child’s teacher, counselor, or principal about services and support available at your school. We have more information about school and special education services at our Education and Schools page.
If your child is acting one way at home and another way at school, you might consider either recording a video at home or asking your teacher to record a video of your child’s behavior in school. It will help you and the teacher stay on the same page.