Your 3-Year-Old

Creative Arts

Your child is using her voice, body, and imagination in more and more expressive ways. She’s using pretend play, imitating you and other adults she knows, and dancing and singing her way through a rundown of her day. While her make-believe games may be getting longer and more complex, they’re actually helping her break down new ideas and try them on for size. What she performs on the outside gives you a glimpse of how she processes things on the inside.

Her dance antics and artwork will amaze you—and what’s equally as interesting are the stories behind them. Ask her a question about the people in her drawing, and you may be rewarded with an intricate, run-on story that combines her classmates, family lore, and bits of plot from her favorite books. You may also notice that she sings songs she’s heard on TV or in movies, but adds lyrics about herself. Sure, you’ll giggle—but you’ll notice her efforts to combine the world inside her head with the one outside it. This is one area where you should encourage her to keep acting out!

Multilingual Learning — Many Paths to Language Skills

I Can Sing Songs and Play Music.

Your child is paying more attention to music than ever before. She may sing along with the music you play, or sing songs to you that she’s heard in school. And not just the words—you may hear her mimicking the rhythms and styles of the singers as well. Sure, it’s part performance, but she’s also trying out new ways to express herself.

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

You should see her teachers leading the class in songs and singing games. Listen for songs that emphasize rhythm and patterns, like call-and-response songs, or songs that emphasize clapping along.

Watch Me Dance.

Have you noticed that it doesn’t take much to get your child dancing? Not even music, sometimes. Watch him wiggle his bottom and wave his arms while playing, or prance dramatically in a circle as he tells you about his day. And when the music is playing, watch him really cut loose.

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

Does your kid’s teacher encourage him to dance like no one’s watching? Learning is happening if you see him and his friends are given streamers, maracas, bells, scarves, and other materials to use in free-form dance parties.

Look What I Made Today.

As your child grows older, you’ll notice his approach to art evolving. Now, he takes more time and pays more attention to his drawing and coloring. He asks for paints or scented markets, and tries to get his hands on a glue stick. And, most interestingly, he has better stories to tell about his pictures—not just “this is Mommy, this is me,” but details about the background, what everyone’s doing, and who the picture is for.

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

Does your kid’s teacher find ways to bring art into different kinds of classroom lessons? See if your child is bringing home artwork that reflects his science lessons—like bugs he made out of Popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners. You should also notice that his art looks more detailed and “finished” than it used to.

I Can Act Out a Story.

She may call it it “play,” but your child spends a serious amount of time acting out her ideas on the world she’s learning about. She combines her live imagination with snippets of words she’s heard, stories she’s read, and actions she’s seen. Notice how many different directions her stories take? That’s her way of making connections and working through increasingly complex thoughts. Although they do get pretty silly sometimes!

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

You should see her teachers encouraging the class to act out stories and ideas using props and costumes. You may even see your kid acting out her “family” life in front of her friends, and pretending to be different members in your home.

All children learn and grow at their own pace and in their own way. For more information about the skills and milestones for your child's age check out our developmental milestones resource page. If you continue to have concerns or questions please give us a call at 1-800-299-1627.