What Should a 4-Year-Old Know Educationally?

As a parent, you may be wondering what should a 4-year-old know educationally. While every child is different, there are some basic things that most 4-year-olds should know.

By educating your 4-year-old about the basics of education, you are setting the groundwork for a successful future.

In this blog post, we will discuss what a four-year-old should be able to do educationally and what skills you’ll need to start training them early.

We’ll also provide an assessment checklist so that you can keep track of your child’s educational achievement.

What Should a 4-Year-Old Know Before Starting School?

Most 4-year-olds are not ready for school. They may be able to recognize some letters and numbers, but they cannot read or write. They also cannot sit still for long periods of time and may need frequent breaks.

School is a big adjustment for 4-year-olds and they may not be ready for the structure and discipline that is required.

If your child is showing signs of readiness, such as being able to follow simple instructions and sitting still for short periods of time, then they may be ready to start school. Talk to your child’s doctor or preschool teacher to see if they think your child is ready for school.


What Cognitive Skills Should a 4-Year-Old Have?

At four years old, children are becoming more aware of the world around them and are able to engage in thoughtful conversations. Here are some cognitive skills that your four-year-old should have:

  • They should be able to understand simple concepts like counting and ordering.
  • They should be beginning to understand basic cause-and-effect relationships.
  • They should have a growing vocabulary and be able to use language to express their thoughts and feelings.
  • They should be showing signs of being able to think logically and solve problems.
  • They should be beginning to understand time concepts like yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
  • Understand and follow basic rules for behavior in school and in social settings.
  • Might begin to write his or her own name and other letters.
  • Count to 50 by ones and tens and recognize numbers up to 20.
  • Recognize and name all the letters of the alphabet -Sound out basic words
  • Know very common sight words

General Things That Most 4-year-olds Should Know

When it comes to educational milestones, every child is different. However, there are some general things that most 4-year-olds should know. Here are a few examples:

Basic Colors and Shapes – By this age, most children can identify basic colors and shapes. They may not be able to name all the colors of the rainbow, but they should be able to point out blue, green, yellow, etc. when asked. As for shapes, they should be able to identify squares, circles, triangles, etc.

The Alphabet – Most 4-year-olds will have started learning the alphabet in preschool. They may not be able to read or write just yet, but they should at least know all the letter names and sounds.

Numbers – In addition to counting up to 10 (or even 20), many 4-year-olds can also begin recognizing numbers in print.

This includes being able to spot numbers on a clock or in a sequence (like on a road sign). Of course, every child is unique and will develop at their own pace. If your child isn’t quite hitting these benchmarks yet, don’t worry! There’s still plenty of time for them to catch up.

4-Year-Old Assessment Checklist

When it comes to assessing the development of a 4-year-old child, there are a number of different checklist items that professionals will typically look at. This can include everything from physical development and gross motor skills to social and emotional development, cognitive skills and early literacy skills.

Physical Development: At this age, children should be able to walk and run well, jump, hop on one foot, throw and catch a ball, climb stairs without help, and dress independently.

Gross Motor Skills: Children should have good control of their large muscles at this age. They should be able to ride a tricycle or bicycle (with training wheels), catch a bouncing ball, kick a ball forward, stand on tiptoes, walk up and down stairs without help, and hop on one foot.

Social & Emotional Development: By age 4, most children are able to understand basic rules and limits. They should be able to follow simple instructions from adults, share toys with other children (though may still have some fights), take turns in games/activities, express their feelings in words instead of tantrums, cooperate with other children when playing, and show empathy for others.

Additionally, they should have developed friendships with other children by now.

Cognitive Skills: Four-year-olds are beginning to develop more complex thinking skills. They can usually remember 3-4 items from memory, follow 2-3 step directions, name common objects, understand the concept of counting (though may not be able to count accurately yet), and know some basic colors beyond just black/white/brown, tell time using an analog clock face (not numbers), know their full name & address & phone number.

Additionally, they should be beginning to use more complex sentence structures when speaking. And finally, they will likely be interested in beginning reading & writing activities.

Common 4-Year-Old Behavior Problems

If you have a 4-year-old, chances are good that you’re seeing some behavior problems. That’s perfectly normal! Here are some common issues and how to deal with them.

1. Tantrums. When your child gets upset, they may scream, cry, or even hit things. It’s important to stay calm yourself and not give in to their demands. Instead, try to redirect their attention to something else or offer a simple explanation of why they can’t have what they want.

2. Defiance. This can manifest itself as refusing to do what you ask, talking back, or general disobedience. Again, it’s important not to lose your cool. Try giving your child choices instead of issuing commands, and be sure to praise good behavior when you see it.

3. Many 4-year-olds struggles with sharing and taking turns. This is normal! Help your child by modeling the behavior you want to see and providing opportunities for practice (like during playdates). With a little patience and understanding, these behavior problems will soon be a thing of the past!

Age 4 Cognitive Development Milestones | Child Development


As a parent, one of your main goals is to provide your child with a strong foundation in education. By providing them with the appropriate knowledge and skills at an early age, you can help them develop a lifelong love for learning. In general, 4-year-olds should know their colors, shapes, and numbers up to 10. They should be able to identify common objects and be able to follow simple instructions. Additionally, 4-year-olds should be beginning to read basic words and understand basic concepts such as counting.

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I am Dwight Hughes Sr., your specialist in Special Education and Preschooler topics at EduEdify.com. Holding a PhD in Early Childhood Education, I bring a depth of knowledge and experience to guide parents and educators in nurturing the younger minds. My mission is to share evidence-based insights, cultivated from years of academic and field research, to help every child flourish during their formative years.

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