Ages and Stages: Guiding Your Child Through the First Five Years

Ages and Stages: Guiding Your Child Through the First Five Years

When watching your children grow throughout the first five years up to kindergarten age, you witness them learning so much. They are always looking around and being alert and when they have their first smile or laugh it melts mom and dad’s hearts. While parents enjoy and celebrate every milestone that young children go through, it is very important to pay attention to those milestones to ensure the child is on track with their developmental skills. After all, 90% of your child's brain physically develops as early as 5 years old. Children develop skills within the following categories: social and emotional, cognitive, language and communication, and gross motor and fine motor. At Little Lukes we pay attention to these categories of development right alongside parents to ensure those milestones are met. Here are general developmental skills we look for in children, ages 1-5.

Child Development Milestones

Developmental Milestones Before 1 Year

For a checklist on developmental progression for the months leading up to 1 year old, visit our website. (

Developmental Milestones of 1 Year Old Children

By this age children have started to develop social skills and emotions. It’s very normal for them to cry when mom and dad exit the room, show nervousness around strangers or new situations, and play games. In addition, they should start to imitate sounds and actions of those around them and respond to simple requests. They should also begin the process of standing and walking on their own; generally they may only be able to take a few steps or will hold onto furniture as they walk.

Developmental Milestones of 2 Year Old Children

By 2, children will begin to show defiant behavior and will copy things others say and do. They will also become excited or curious when other children enter the room and will begin to include them in their play. 2 year olds generally can say 2-4 word sentences and should know and be able to identify the names of familiar entities, such as people, body parts, shapes and colors. In addition, 2 year old children should begin to kick, throw, climb, and run.

Developmental Milestones of 3 Year Old Children

At 3 years old, children will have developed a wide range of emotions, showing concern and affection without prompting. They should be able to follow 2-3 step simple instructions and be able to understand location (in, on, under), age, sex, and ownership (mine, his, hers). At this age children should also be able to play make believe and begin to use tricycles and walk up and down the stairs one foot on each step.

Developmental Milestones of 4 Year Old Children

At 4, children will often rather play with other children than by themselves, engage in more intricate make believe play, and often not be able to tell the difference between what is real and not real. 4 year olds will also be able to have discussions on their interests and disinterests or tell stories, using very basic rules of grammar. Children of this age begin to understand the concept of counting, time, and letters. Physical development increases to being able to catch a ball, stand or hop on one foot, and being able to pour, cut and mash food (with supervision).

Developmental Milestones of 5 Year Old Children

By 5 years old, important friendships are established and children can distinguish between what is real and not real. This is also the age where children can show a wide range between being very demanding and very cooperative. 5 year old children will also be able to speak fairly clearly and begin to understand future tense such as, “we will play at the park tomorrow.” They will start to learn to write, count to more than 10, use the toilet on their own, swing, and do somersaults.

How to Help Your Child Meet These Developmental Milestones

Young children develop and learn so much in just a few short years. Be sure you are actively making an effort to pay attention and notice these milestones. The big ones are easy to notice, like taking their first step or saying their first word. However it’s the ones that are easy to over look that parents need to make an effort to notice, such as becoming curious when another child enters the room around age 2.

If you believe your child is delayed in development, encourage them to do activities that will ease them into the milestone quicker. For example, to help your baby gain the strength needed to begin learning to sit up, roll over, crawl, or walk, engage them in “tummy time.”

Early Intervention

We want to ensure your children are developing successfully. Little Lukes offers early intervention evaluations, after referral, for 5 areas of development: physical, adaptive, social/emotional, communication, and cognitive development. Little Lukes is an approved provider of Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Special Instructions. If you believe your child is delayed in meeting typical milestones or your child would benefit from these services, please refer your child to your county’s department of health to speak with a service provider on scheduling an evaluation. For children ages 3-5 years, your school district can help with referral and evaluation.

For a more complete list of developmental milestones or more information on how to monitor and guide healthy development, please visit the CDC website.

Little Lukes is a leading Syracuse daycare provider with five preschool locations. The early education program includes credentialed and caring staff that specializes in comprehensive infant, toddler and pre-kindergarten development. Children with developmental delays may qualify for preschool services in a home or preschool setting. Additional services include pediatric speech therapy, pediatric physical therapy and pediatric occupational therapy. Preschool locations include Dewitt (East Syracuse), Baldwinsville (Radisson), Oswego, Fulton, and Pulaski. Please contact us at