Get an overview of the reading and writing skills that are typical for 4-year-olds. Remember that kids develop at different rates, so don't be worried if your child isn’t doing some of these things yet. If you do have concerns, talk to your pediatrician.
- Enjoys listening to and talking about stories and books.
- Knows how to hold a book and turn pages, and can identify the front and back covers
- Understands that print carries a message, and that print is read in stories.
- Participates in rhyming and alliteration games.
- Makes attempts to "read."
- Identifies familiar signs and labels.
- Can identify 10 or more alphabet letters, especially the letters in own name.
- Begins to recognize beginning sounds in spoken words and other letter-sound matches.
- Speech is understandable but makes mistakes pronouncing long, difficult, or complex words such as hippopotamus.
- Uses new vocabulary and grammar in their speech.
- Has fun with language. Enjoys poems and recognizes language absurdities such as, "Is that an elephant on your head?"
- Uses verbs that end in "ing," such as walking or talking, and uses some irregular past tense verbs such as ran and fell.
- Understands and follows oral directions.
- Understands and recalls simple sequences of events in stories.
- Understands complex questions, and can answer "why" questions.
- Connects information and events in stories to life experiences.
- "Writes" (scribbles) messages in letter-like shapes as part of playful activity.
- Begins to draw more recognizable letters and knows to use letters to represent meaningful words — including their names or phrases such as "I love you."
- Calls attention to own writing: "Look at my story."
- Observes older kids and adults writing for a purpose and want to try it, too.
Looking at Writing
See examples of real writing from pre-K children in our interactive resource, Looking at Writing.