Your 3-Year-Old

Social Studies

As your child begins to realize the size and scope of the world, he also begins to realize where he fits into it. His home is on a street within a town within a state, and he lives in a community with leaders, workers, and friends. He is also starting to understand time in terms of the past and present, and even has a little perspective on how far he’s come. Pretty profound for a young toddler, right?

He’s also becoming more aware of geography, space, and history, as it pertains to his world. You’ll notice he understands the difference between things he “used to do” and things he “does” as well as the kinds of activities that take place in varied locations.

Ask him to tell you about his world. Listen to what he has to say about his preschool or play group, and the “jobs” he does when he helps out.  Talk with him about how leaders and helpers work together, and the roles different people in his world play. You’re helping develop a future citizen. That’s something to be proud of!

Child Care Staff Gifts: What They Really Want!

This Is My Neighborhood.

Your child’s world is growing bigger everyday. He sees his parents and siblings, schoolmates and neighbors, and even the workers in his town as extensions of his family—his first taste of a community. Now you’ll see him playing “store” and “school” and similar games, and acting out the roles of the people he knows. And if you ask him to tell you about the people he knows, he’ll let you know how they’re all related to him.

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

Do classroom materials represent the diverse kinds of children, families and abilities? Look for pictures that celebrate diverse people, as well as chances for children to talk about similarities and differences among children.

I Know When We Do That.

It’s easy for children to “remember” moments they see captured in photographs. But now, your son is starting to show an ability to remember things that happened to him in years past…and might even refer to that time as “back when I was two.” Try not to laugh—to him, a year was a long time ago! His understanding of time also covers when things happen during the day. He may say, “We play soccer on Saturdays” or, “On Sundays, we go to Nana’s house.” To him, this is history.

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

Listen for discussions of positive behavior expectations. Do adults talk with children about expectations in their program? "Before we go outside, we put our toys back in the right place!"

I Know Where That Is!

Your child’s world is getting bigger. When you travel around town, he can tell whether you’re going towards the park, the beach, or the store. He might have a favorite route to school—or tell you, “You’re going the wrong way!” As he learns that his home is within a state, and in the United States, ask him if he can point them out to you on a map.

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

With blocks or other drawings, children create depictions of familiar places, for example, the program's environment, their neighborhood or their home. Pre-K students might also talk about the location of their classroom cubby or different classroom activities. "My cubby is the last in this row!"

I Can Play Store.

Whether or not you’ve talked about work or money with your child, she’s already picking up the cues in her everyday world. While she sees you paying for groceries, she may also become familiar with the faces behind the checkout counter, or remember the name of the lady at the auto repair shop. You’ll smile watching her and her friends run a pretend ice-cream shop out of a jungle gym. You may be surprised at how she’s picked up the lingo!

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

Children have the chance to set up play grocery stores or talk about different jobs in the community.

I Can Help Out.

Your child is starting to realize that we don’t just do something because we’re asked…we do it because it’s the right thing to do. He may start carrying his own empty cup towards the dishwasher after lunch. At his preschool, you may see him putting toys away—or see his name on the wall as “line leader.” He’s finding satisfaction in being helpful, taking charge, and getting things done.

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

Do you see children helping in the classroom, from acting as line leader to helping to pick up before the next activity?

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.