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What Should Your Preschooler Know at Different Ages?

digital literacy for kids

What are Developmental Milestones and
Why are they Important

Physical Milestones: Gross Motor Skills
for Preschoolers

Physical Milestones: Fine Motor Skills
for Preschoolers

Communication and Cognitive
Milestones for Preschoolers

Personal and Social-Emotional
Milestones for Preschoolers

Is my child hitting their developmental milestones?

We know that parents in Singapore are often concerned about how their kids are progressing, especially in the early years between two and six.

During the baby days, you may have recorded your child’s first smiles, the first attempts at rolling over and crawling, and those precious first steps! Apart from celebrating these magical moments, you would also be assured that your baby is developing well.

Now that your baby has grown into a lively preschooler, what abilities or skills should he or she have? To answer this question, you’ll need a list of developmental milestones—but don’t worry, we’ll help you along!

What are Developmental Milestones, and Why Are They Important?

chil development milestone

Although every child grows and learns at a different rate, and this is absolutely normal, research has given us a clear picture of how the average child develops.

For instance, most children learn to crawl when they are about nine months old! Skills such as crawling and walking are known as developmental milestones, because they are usually acquired by a certain age.

If a child reaches several developmental milestones earlier than expected, he or she could be an advanced learner.

However, if a child takes much longer than expected to reach a milestone, it could mean that a child needs more experiences in that area. It could in some cases be a sign of a developmental delay for various reasons.

In both scenarios, a child might need extra support—from a professional such as a pediatrician or child psychologist—in order to reach his or her full potential. By knowing what to look out for, you can notice if something seems out of the ordinary, and decide if you want to seek help.

Parents who are Singapore citizens can log into the HealthHub website or app (App Store | Google Play) to access a personalized milestones guide for their children. For your convenience, we’ve also listed these milestones below!

Physical Milestones: Gross Motor Skills for Preschoolers

Gross Motor Skills for Preschoolers

Gross motor skills (also known as large motor skills) require whole-body movements, and they involve the large muscles in our torso, legs, and arms. Examples of early gross motor skills are sitting up, standing, crawling, and walking.

At Shaws, when we focus on the gross motor skills, we also include the core muscles that are important for balance and coordination.

Children with gross motor difficulties may try to avoid sports and exercise. They may also feel drained by everyday activities like sitting in a classroom or moving through a crowded environment.

Below are some important gross motor skills to look out for in your preschooler:

Age Milestone How to Assess When to Expect
2 years (playgroup) Standing and taking a few steps without support When your child is in a standing position, try letting go. They may tumble at first, but soon, they’ll be able to stand on their own for 10 seconds or more. From 14.5 months
Bending to pick up toys Notice if your child bends to pick up a toy, and returns to a standing position without sitting down or pushing against the floor. From 15.5 months
Walking independently Can your little one walk without help? Don’t worry if they are still unsteady—they will be able to take confident steps soon! From 16 months
Walking up stairs with support Your child may attempt to climb up the stairs while holding on to an adult or the handrail. From 21.5 months
4 years (N2) Walking down steps independently Your child might try walking down several steps, without the help of an adult. They might still hold on to the handrail—let them practice stair-climbing in a safe environment! From 24.5 months
Kicking a ball Show your child how to kick a ball, and see if they imitate you. Don’t worry if your child misses—give it time! From 26 months
Jumping with both feet in the air Your little one may have started jumping off curbs and steps. Observe if they are also able to jump with both feet in the air at the same time! From 32.5 months
3 years (N1) Balancing on one foot (one second) This is a skill that needs strength, coordination, and body awareness. See if your child can balance on one foot for at least one second, without support. From 37 months
Pedaling a tricycle Your little one may take a while to learn how to work the pedals on a tricycle. Stand a short distance away, and let him or her pedal towards you! From 41.5 months
Walking up and down the stairs You may notice that your child is now able to use alternating feet to walk up and down the stairs independently. From 43.5 months
Balancing on one foot (more than one second) Play balancing games with your child, and see if he or she can balance on one foot for two seconds or more, without support. From 46.5 months
5–6 years (K1/K2) Hopping on one foot Play games like hopscotch with your child. See if your child is able to hop on one foot (at least twice) without support. From 53.5 months
Balancing on one foot (more than five seconds) As your child’s muscles get stronger, he or she will be able to balance on one foot for five seconds or more, without support. From 57 months
Age 2 years (playgroup)
Milestone Standing and taking a few steps without support
Bending to pick up toys
Walking independently
Walking up stairs with support
How to assess When your child is in a standing position, try letting go. They may tumble at first, but soon, they’ll be able to stand on their own for 10 seconds or more.
Notice if your child bends to pick up a toy, and returns to a standing position without sitting down or pushing against the floor.
Can your little one walk without help? Don’t worry if they are still unsteady—they will be able to take confident steps soon!
Your child may attempt to climb up the stairs while holding on to an adult or the handrail.
When to Expect From 14.5 months
From 15.5 months
From 16 months
From 21.5 months
Age 3 years (N1)
Milestone Walking down steps independently
Kicking a ball
Jumping with both feet in the air
How to assess Your child might try walking down several steps, without the help of an adult. They might still hold on to the handrail—let them practise stair-climbing in a safe environment!
Show your child how to kick a ball, and see if they imitate you. Don’t worry if your child misses—give it time!
Your little one may have started jumping off curbs and steps. Observe if they are also able to jump with both feet in the air at the same time!
When to Expect From 24.5 months
From 26 months
From 32.5 months
Age 4 years (N2)
Milestone Balancing on one foot (one second)
Pedalling a tricycle
Walking up and down the stairs
Balancing on one foot (more than one second)
How to assess This is a skill that needs strength, coordination, and body awareness. See if your child can balance on one foot for at least one second, without support.
Your little one may take a while to learn how to work the pedals on a tricycle. Stand a short distance away, and let him or her pedal towards you!
You may notice that your child is now able to use alternating feet to walk up and down the stairs independently.
Play balancing games with your child, and see if he or she can balance on one foot for two seconds or more, without support.
When to Expect From 37 months
From 41.5 months
From 43.5 months
From 46.5 months
Age 5–6 years (K1/K2)
Milestone Hopping on one foot
Balancing on one foot (more than five seconds)
How to assess Play games like hopscotch with your child. See if your child is able to hop on one foot (at least twice) without support.
As your child’s muscles get stronger, he or she will be able to balance on one foot for five seconds or more, without support.
When to Expect From 53.5 months
From 57 months

Physical Milestones: Fine Motor Skills for Preschoolers

Gross Motor Skills for Preschoolers

Fine motor skills involve precise movements like grasping a spoon, holding a crayon, drawing shapes, and picking up small objects.

Children with fine motor difficulties will find it hard to handle objects with their hands. They may have trouble with daily tasks such as tying their shoelaces. In school, they may struggle to write and draw.

Below are some important fine motor skills to look out for in your preschooler:

Age Milestone How to Assess When to Expect
2 years (playgroup) Grasping things with pincer grip Has your child started to pick up small objects (e.g. a raisin), using the thumb and index finger? This is the time to baby-proof your home! From 13.5 months
Scribbling and doodling If your child can grasp small objects, they may be ready to doodle and scribble. Get crayons and paper, and doodle together! From 16 months
Stacking two-storey towers Let your little one play with building blocks. Watch if your child is able to stack two blocks, without them falling. From 17 months
Stacking four-storey towers Have fun with your child by building towers together! See if your child has progressed to stacking four or more blocks, to create steady towers. From 23 months
3–4 years (N1/N2) Stacking six-storey towers Your child’s hand-eye coordination has been improving! They may be able to stack six or more blocks by now. From 29 months
Stacking eight-storey towers Can your child stack up to eight blocks without them falling down? From 35.5 months
Drawing a vertical line Can your child draw a vertical line without help? Draw a line for your child, and see if they too can draw a fairly straight line (over 5 cm). From 38.5 months
Identifying the longer line Draw two lines, one longer than the other. Show your child which is the longer line, and see if your child can also identify the longer line. From 46.5 months
Copying the drawing of a circle Show your child how to draw a circle. Then let your child copy your drawing. From 47 months
5–6 years (K1/K2) Copying the drawing of a cross Let your child try drawing two lines that intersect. The lines may not be straight, and the cross may not be perfect—this is normal! From 50 months
Copying the drawing of a square Draw a square, and let your child copy it. They will eventually learn that to form a square, one needs to make fairly straight lines, with four corners. From 56 months
Drawing stick figures Give your child crayons and pencils, and have fun drawing stick figures together! From 57.5 months
Drawing more complex figures If your child loves drawing, they can try drawing people with more details, such as the close-up of a face, or arms with hands and fingers. From 62.5 months
Age 2 years (playgroup)
Milestone Grasping things with pincer grip
Scribbling and doodling
Stacking two-storey towers
Stacking four-storey towers
How to assess Has your child started to pick up small objects (e.g. a raisin), using the thumb and index finger? This is the time to baby-proof your home!
If your child can grasp small objects, they may be ready to doodle and scribble. Get crayons and paper, and doodle together!
Let your little one play with building blocks. Watch if your child is able to stack two blocks, without them falling.
Have fun with your child by building towers together! See if your child has progressed to stacking four or more blocks, to create steady towers.
When to Expect From 13.5 months
From 16 months
From 17 months
From 23 months
Age 3–4 years (N1/N2)
Milestone Stacking six-storey towers
Stacking eight-storey towers
Drawing a vertical line
Identifying the longer line
Copying the drawing of a circle
How to assess Your child’s hand-eye coordination has been improving! They may be able to stack six or more blocks by now.
Can your child stack up to eight blocks without them falling down?
Can your child draw a vertical line without help? Draw a line for your child, and see if they too can draw a fairly straight line (over 5 cm).
Draw two lines, one longer than the other. Show your child which is the longer line, and see if your child can also identify the longer line.
Show your child how to draw a circle. Then let your child copy your drawing. The early attempts may not look like circles, but that’s OK!
When to Expect From 29 months
From 35.5 months
From 38.5 months
From 46.5 months
From 47 months
Age 5–6 years (K1/K2)
Milestone Copying the drawing of a cross
Copying the drawing of a square
Drawing stick figures
Drawing more complex figures
How to assess Let your child try drawing two lines that intersect. The lines may not be straight, and the cross may not be perfect—this is normal!
Draw a square, and let your child copy it. They will eventually learn that to form a square, one needs to make fairly straight lines, with four corners.
Give your child crayons and pencils, and have fun drawing stick figures together!
If your child loves drawing, they can try drawing people with more details, such as the close-up of a face, or arms with hands and fingers.
When to Expect From 50 months
From 56 months
From 57.5 months
From 62.5 months

Communication and Cognitive Milestones for Preschoolers

Communication and Cognitive Milestones for Preschoolers

Communication milestones involve both verbal and non-verbal communication. From gesturing to using words and constructing sentences, communication milestones are important for any growing child.

What about cognitive milestones? These revolve around a child’s ability to think, learn, and solve problems. Examples of cognitive milestones include a baby learning to respond to facial expressions, and a child learning to use words correctly.

Below are some communication and cognitive skills to look out for in your preschooler:

Age Milestone How to Assess When to Expect
2 years (playgroup) Saying “Mama” or “Papa” Has your little one started to address you as “Mama” or “Papa?” You must be looking forward to this! From 14.5 months
Pointing to body parts When you say “nose,” can your child point to the correct body part? How about the eyes, ears, hands, hair, legs, and stomach? By now, your child should be able to correctly identify at least two body parts! From 19 months
Starting to use words Apart from “Mama” and “Papa”, can your child say three more words, and use them in the same way each time? From 21 months
3 years (N1) Pointing correctly to two pictures Show your child a set of five picture cards, and name them. Can your child point correctly to at least two picture cards? From 25.5 months
Combining words Has your child started to use word combinations like “play ball” or “want drink?” To help your child develop language skills, spend plenty of time talking to your child, singing songs together, and reading books aloud! From 27 months
Pointing correctly to four pictures Show your child a set of five picture cards, and name them. Can your child point correctly to at least four picture cards? From 28.5 months
Naming two pictures correctly Using your set of five picture cards, can your child name at least two pictures correctly? From 30 months
4 years (N2) Naming four pictures correctly From your set of five picture cards, is your child able to name at least four pictures correctly? From 37 months
Knowing one’s name/age/sex Does your child know their name, age, and gender? Let your child practise answering questions like “What is your name?” From 40 months
Speaking in complete sentences Is your child able to make sentences with words like “and” or “but?” From 48 months
5–6 years (K1/K2) Counting from 1 to 10 Can your child count from one to 10? Count together, sing number songs, and read counting books! From 52 months
Knowing the purpose of objects Does your child know what a cup is for? How about a pencil, or a chair? From 55.5 months
Naming three colours correctly Play games with your child that involve naming colours—they should be able to identify at least three colours! From 63.5 months
Placing and counting objects Get eight blocks. Put a paper next to the blocks. Ask your child to take one block and put it on the paper. Repeat the process with three blocks, and then with five blocks! From 64 months
Age 2 years (playgroup)
Milestone Saying “Mama” or “Papa”
Pointing to body parts
Starting to use words
How to assess Has your little one started to address you as “Mama” or “Papa?” You must be looking forward to this!
When you say “nose,” can your child point to the correct body part? How about the eyes, ears, hands, hair, legs, and stomach? By now, your child should be able to correctly identify at least two body parts!
Apart from “Mama” and “Papa”, can your child say three more words, and use them in the same way each time?
When to Expect From 14.5 months
From 19 months
From 21 months
Age 3 years (N1)
Milestone Pointing correctly to two pictures
Combining words
Pointing correctly to four pictures
Naming two pictures correctly
How to assess Show your child a set of five picture cards, and name them. Can your child point correctly to at least two picture cards?
Has your child started to use word combinations like “play ball” or “want drink?” To help your child develop language skills, spend plenty of time talking to your child, singing songs together, and reading books aloud!
Show your child a set of five picture cards, and name them. Can your child point correctly to at least four picture cards?
Using your set of five picture cards, can your child name at least two pictures correctly?
When to Expect From 25.5 months
From 27 months
From 28.5 months
From 30 months
Age 4 years (N2)
Milestone Naming four pictures correctly
Knowing one’s name/age/sex
Speaking in complete sentences
How to assess From your set of five picture cards, is your child able to name at least four pictures correctly?
Does your child know their name, age, and gender? Let your child practice answering questions like “What is your name?”
Is your child able to make sentences with words like “and” or “but?”
When to Expect From 37 months
From 40 months
From 48 months
Age 5–6 years (K1/K2)
Milestone Counting from 1 to 10
Knowing the purpose of objects
Naming three colours correctly
Placing and counting objects
How to assess Can your child count from one to 10? Count together, sing number songs, and read counting books!
Does your child know what a cup is for? How about a pencil, or a chair?
Play games with your child that involve naming colours—they should be able to identify at least three colours!
Get eight blocks. Put a paper next to the blocks. Ask your child to take one block and put it on the paper. Repeat the process with three blocks, and then with five blocks!
When to Expect From 52 months
From 55.5 months
From 63.5 months
From 64 months

Personal and Social-Emotional Milestones for Preschoolers

Communication and Cognitive Milestones for Preschoolers

For a preschooler, personal milestones include everyday self-care skills such as brushing one’s teeth and getting dressed.

To thrive in the world, children also need to express their emotions effectively, follow rules and directions, and form positive relationships with others. These are known as social-emotional skills.

Below are some personal and social-emotional skills to look out for in your preschooler. (For more information, refer to this self-care development chart, and this list of social-emotional milestones.)

Age Milestone How to Assess When to Expect
2 years (playgroup) Gesturing to express oneself Is your child reaching out with open arms to be carried, or pointing to food to express hunger? You can also teach your child some useful gestures! From 13.5 months
Imitating you at home Has your child started imitating what Mommy and Daddy do at home? A child learns through imitation, and parents are the most important role models! From 16 months
Drinking from a cup Your little one might be ready to drink from a regular cup. There will be spills initially, but your child will figure this out soon! From 18.5 months
Using a spoon to self-feed Instead of using fingers, your child might be ready to eat with a spoon. Things might be messy at first, but it will get better! From 22 months
Undressing oneself Your child might try to take off their clothes or shoes. With practice, your child will be able to do this without help! From 24 months
3–4 years (N1/N2) Pretend play with toys Your child is getting more imaginative, and you might notice them indulging in pretend play with toys, such as tucking plush toys into bed. From 24.5 months
Dressing oneself Has your child started to dress independently, with just a little help needed? From 34 months
Referring to a friend by name When your child talks about a playdate, or what happened in school, do they refer to peers by name? Encourage your child to do so, by asking about their friends! From 45.5 months
5–6 years (K1/K2) Brushing teeth with help Show your child the best way to brush, and let your child imitate you! From 51 months
Getting dressed independently Is your child able to dress correctly, without help? Although your child may still struggle with zips, laces, and buttons, that’s perfectly fine. In time, they will learn! From 54 months
Brushing teeth independently Is your child able to brush without help, including squeezing the toothpaste onto the toothbrush? Now, you’ll only need to help with the flossing! From 69 months
Age 2 years (playgroup)
Milestone Gesturing to express oneself
Imitating you at home
Drinking from a cup
Using a spoon to self-feed
Undressing oneself
How to assess Is your child reaching out with open arms to be carried, or pointing to food to express hunger? You can also teach your child some useful gestures!
Has your child started imitating what Mommy and Daddy do at home? A child learns through imitation, and parents are the most important role models!
Your little one might be ready to drink from a regular cup. There will be spills initially, but your child will figure this out soon!
Instead of using fingers, your child might be ready to eat with a spoon. Things might be messy at first, but it will get better!
Your child might try to take off their clothes or shoes. With practice, your child will be able to do this without help!
When to Expect From 13.5 months
From 16 months
From 18.5 months
From 22 months
From 24 months
Age 3–4 years (N1/N2)
Milestone Pretend play with toys
Dressing oneself
Referring to a friend by name
How to assess Your child is getting more imaginative, and you might notice them indulging in pretend play with toys, such as tucking plush toys into bed.
Has your child started to dress independently, with just a little help needed?
When your child talks about a playdate, or what happened in school, do they refer to peers by name? Encourage your child to do so, by asking about their friends!
When to Expect From 24.5 months
From 34 months
From 45.5 months
Age 5–6 years (K1/K2)
Milestone Brushing teeth with help
Getting dressed independently
Brushing teeth independently
How to assess Show your child the best way to brush, and let your child imitate you!
Is your child able to dress correctly, without help? Although your child may still struggle with zips, laces, and buttons, that’s perfectly fine. In time, they will learn!
Is your child able to brush without help, including squeezing the toothpaste onto the toothbrush? Now, you’ll only need to help with the flossing!
When to Expect From 51 months
From 54 months
From 69 months
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