Developmental Milestones For Ages 3-5 Years of Age

By AASLDecember 3, 2020

Childhood development is complex. Between fine motor and gross motor development, and the variability between children, it’s not always easy to tell if your child’s development is considered “typical.” If you’re worried that your child’s writing and pre-writing development may be atypical, here is a tool for you to use. These are the developmental milestones in writing that average children meet by certain ages. Also, there are lists of indications that your child’s fine motor/handwriting development may be atypical.

Between the ages of 3-4 years an average child will:

  • Pre-Writing Strokes – Between 3-4 years of age, children should be able to copy vertical and horizontal lines, and circles, without a demonstration from their parents. By 3.5 years, they should also be able to imitate you when you draw a plus sign.
  • Copy letters – Just before age 4, a typical child may begin to copy simple familiar letters and so on.
  • Tracing lines – Trace on top of a thick horizontal line without going off of the line much.
  • Coloring Shapes – By this age, children should be able to color grossly within the lines of simple shapes and forms.
  • Using Scissors – By this age a child should be able to easily cut an 8 X 11 piece of paper in half, and cut along a straight line without going off the line too much.
  • Grasp – Between 3.5-4 years, a child should be using his/her thumb and pad of the index finger, while resting the marker/crayon on the knuckle of the middle finger to color and draw.

If your child isn’t meeting the following milestones by age 4, you may want to see an occupational therapist.

  • Drawing straight lines and circles
  • Cannot hold a crayon or other writing utensil with fingers and thumb and is still using fist
  • Scribbles when coloring, instead of using a variety of strokes, and is unable to stay somewhat in the lines when coloring
  • Is struggling to use scissors properly

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