What Should a 4 Year Old Know?

What should a 4 year old know?

It’s back to school time and children all over are starting preschool.  Many parents are frantically searching the internet to find out if their little ones are “on track” and know everything they should.

I wrote this article about what a four-year-old should know many years ago but it continues to be the most popular page on the Magical Childhood site.  I don’t think a week has passed in the past eight or so years when I have not received a letter from a parent, grandparent or teacher about it.  Parents and principals especially have said they wish more parents realized these things.

So in honor of the new school year, I’m posting it here…

What should a 4 year old know?

I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.

Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only three. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

    1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
    2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
    3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
    4. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he couldn’t care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
    5. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.

But more important, here’s what parents need to know.

    1. That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
    2. That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
    3. That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
    4. That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.
    5. That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

And now back to those 4 year old skills lists…..

I know it’s human nature to want to know how our children compare to others and to want to make sure we’re doing all we can for them. Here is a list of what children are typically taught or should know by the end of each year of school, starting with preschool.

Since we homeschool, I occasionally print out the lists and check to see if there’s anything glaringly absent in what my kids know. So far there hasn’t been, but I get ideas sometimes for subjects to think up games about or books to check out from the library. Whether you homeschool or not, the lists can be useful to see what kids typically learn each year and can be reassuring that they really are doing fine.

If there are areas where it seems your child is lacking, realize that it’s not an indication of failure for either you or your child. You just haven’t happened to cover that. Kids will learn whatever they’re exposed to, and the idea that they all need to know these 15 things at this precise age is rather silly. Still, if you want him to have those subjects covered then just work it into life and play with the subject and he’ll naturally pick it up. Count to 60 when you’re mixing a cake and he’ll pick up his numbers. Get fun books from the library about space or the alphabet. Experiment with everything from backyard snow to celery stalks in food coloring. It’ll all happen naturally, with much more fun and much less pressure.

My favorite advice about preschoolers is on this site though.

What does a 4 year old need?

Much less than we realize, and much more.

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491 Comments

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491 responses to “What Should a 4 Year Old Know?

  1. Pingback: Childhood « Today was…

    • Jennifer

      I love this! I print it out and give a copy to each of my new families that join my home preschool.

      It brings tears to my eyes each time I read it. Thank you!

      • Catherine

        I’m welling up too! It’s an absolutely brilliant list.

      • Crystal

        I plan in doing the same for my pre-k class. I see so many parents overly concerned about the child’s progress and what they bend to work on @ home. I always to relax and enjoy this time with their kids.

  2. That’s the best list I’ve read along these lines :) I get so sick of reading lists of school readiness skills that young children need to have before starting school. Your list should be what we strive for, rather than the ability to recognise your name or sit still for a given amount of time.

    • LeGreta Deas

      Thank you so much! I cried reading this article. I have been bombarded with all these things my four-year old son should know and how he needs to sit during Sunday School and listen to stories. I will give this list to my mom.

      • krazybitzz

        I don’t think any kid in the history of kids have sat through sunday School!

      • Isabella Smith

        I have to disagree with Krazybitzz’s comment. I have taught many k-3 and k-4 SS classes where there children were not able to get up and run around yet they were taught to pay attention and learn. Yes there was song time, activity time, and group time; but when it was time to sit still with their hands in their laps and listen all 15 children did.

  3. One of my parents came into my 4 year-old classroom and says, “It seems like they’re just playing every time I come in”. At my next parent meeting I was sure to put up poster board signs that included every skill my children were learning during play. 

    • What did she expect them to be doing?

    • Natalia

      I have had to include skills in newsletters and such to parents so they know why their kids brought home crafts or talked about playing a lot at school. Parents don’t realize how much learning can occur through play. I will often have kids acting like animals while we sing our ABC’s or count or spell. They think they are just being silly, but they are really learning a lot! Play is the best way to teach a child!

    • kim

      I’m a Pre k teacher in Ny. We follow the NYS core standards and its daunting when looking at it, but it can all be done with play. Play is proven to be essential in a child’s development. They learn life lessons while pretending, role playing with peers, and building experiences. There’s a way to learn early on and it is through imagination and playing . Kim

  4. This is brilliant I am going to share this everywhere…I am so glad I clicked in from twitter.

    Life is so competitive and our 4yr old children don’t need to drawn into such insanity.

  5. What a wonderful post. I completely agree with you. Parents are too competitive and we should just understand that play and reading are the best for our kids. A few cardboard boxes are better than a whole shop worth of toys and will give longer hours of fun and enjoyment.

    • lou

      so true….let them develope in their own time…no pressure , just patience and a lot of love. from a mom of 6

    • Kingmidas

      I remember when my daughter was little, in the Summer, I used to have a garden full of kids sitting under the gazebo in the garden because I used to give them all my scrap cardboard, glue and paint and they used to have an afternoon of junk modelling. Always made me a bit sad when they said they never did it at home … and I’m not a stay at home mum, I had to work – but I tried to make sure that time spent with her was valuable. She’s now 15 so things like this site weren’t really around so much when she was little, so I went by instinct. Too many people are afraid of their instincts. She’s still a complete joy, by the way <3

  6. Gorgeous list covering so much of what is truly important. If only more parents knew…

  7. Thank you so much for posting this! I am always so worried about what my 3 1/2 knows because so and so’s kid already can do that an more! Our daughter is a very smart one and will make up her own songs and stories but couldn’t care less about her ABC’s. I just need to relax and remember that she is still a kid and needs to be a kid as long as she can!

  8. Erin

    This is a fantastic article. I will be printing this out and putting a copy in my prinicipal’s box tomorrow.Well done!

  9. I adore your words of wisdom. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Sarina

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  11. Wonderful, thank you xx

  12. My daughter is turning 4 in November. We are starting our ‘preschool at home’ this year and incorporating her 2.5 year old sister as well.

    I love this post. It brought tears to my eyes. I want all the best there is for my girls, and I know that starts with them feeling safe and loved. Thanks for putting it so beautifully!

  13. I’m touched, moved, warm in my heart.
    Thank you for making such an important point.
    And doing it so beautifully.
    I will certanly spread the word.

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  15. Ellen

    This was absolutely beautiful! I’ve linked it on my Facebook page and hope other people find it as inspiring as I have. :)

  16. Cathy

    I wholeheartedly agree with this article. I have noticed a significant connection to culture and driving kids to be academically superior. It would be nice to see an article examining the correlation between the culture in which the parents are raised and the resulting pressure on their kids to over-achieve.

  17. katherinemarie

    So beautiful. I wish every parent could embrace the wisdom here!!!! I think this post should be required reading for any and all parents!! And it seems like you could change the number FOUR to just about any number. What if all adults believed 1-5 about themselves?!!! What a world we would live in.

  18. Pingback: What pre-school kids and their parents need to know I just read this amazing blog post on

  19. Just saw this article on someone’s facebook status and stopped by..its beautiful!! Its amazing how we sometimes get lost between juggling jobs and kids and forget that the simples pleasures of life is just spending and enjoying time with kids..

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  21. My aunt sent this to me. I LOVED it! Thank You so much for sharing this.
    We are considering HomeSchooling our littles. It just feels like it would be a continuation of what we are already doing. :o)

  22. Bree

    I stumbled upon this article and I whole-heartedly agree. My parent are the ten-minute a-day parents and are always trying to give me advantages. Me? I just want to be happy. I love this article and wish more people could see it like this.

  23. Father of 4 year old twins

    Perfect — just beautiful

  24. Pingback: What should a 4yr old know? « Samantha Currie

  25. Pingback: What Should a 4-year-old Know? « A Mother's Notebook

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  27. Very lovely.

    Still, as the mother of a nearly-4 atypical child who has not yet been diagnosed, this highlights all the many things parents (including myself once, before Anatoly) take for granted.

  28. Thank you for this post. It is very encouraging to me as this is my first year of homeschooling and I am worried that I won’t cover everything.

  29. Great article and very appropriate on the first day of school!

  30. An excellent post. And not just applicable to four-year-olds! Schools are designed, in part, to make education competitive…as preparation for the consumer/corporate world. Thanks for spreading some joy and sanity.

  31. Kate

    Love. Love. Love. Love. I’m printing it out right now and posting it on my refrigerator.

  32. Well said!

    I’ve kept my fourth and last child at home with me until she started kindergarten last week. I worried a wee bit, but then I told myself not to be silly, because she is bright and happy with a great imagination and IF she is behind, it won’t be for long … and if she is, well life is like that sometimes.

  33. Jessica

    This is great!!!! Great words of wisdom!

  34. no-preschool mama

    Thank you for this. My wonderfully magical 4 year old wanted to go to pre-school this year and when we looked into it, the local pre-school insisted on a full-day program. It didn’t feel right. Your words, especially the ones about playing in the mud and making fairy houses, are confirmation that my decision to keep her out of pre-school was the right one. I knew it already, but its nice to hear from an experienced home-schooling mama.

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  36. Amy F

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this!!! I totally agree with everything you have said here! I always beleived this but I personally don’t have a way with words on paper quite like you do!!!!!!! I was in tears reading this because it’s a shame what some parents make their children do on a daily basis… I always base my 11 month old daughter’s “smarts” on her happiness. Thank you again f this beautiful article!

  37. nacm0326x

    I am the parent of two 3.5 year old boys who both joined our family through adoption. One was 8 months old when we gained custody and the other was 3 years 6 months. The amazingly sad thing I am witnessing with our newest son is what happens when a child is denyed a right and opportunity to expereince what you talked about above. These are not ideals, they are as esential as food and water. Our newest little guy did not know how to walk down a hill, open a book, play in a bath tub, find something in a picture or hold onto someone who was carying him. Will he be able to catch up to his peers, sure, not soon, but eventualy. Thanks for reminding people what is truly important. Without these things, the rest can’t happen. Trust me, I see it every day.

  38. ilene

    I just found this via another website and had to say that this is wonderful advice for a child of any age, not just a preschooler. This is the kind of learning that we are trying to instill in our children who are now 7 and almost 10. Thank you.

  39. I really enjoyed this post and was wondering if I could reprint it in part in my MOPS (Mothers of PreSchoolers) group newsletter.

    Thanks for considering it,
    Emily

  40. Thanks for this beautiful list. Never mind what four year olds should know – the world would be a better place if we all knew the things on that list!

  41. Yes! I agree (SO MUCH).

    I especially loved the part about how our children need US. They don’t need toys or playdates or cultural trips…as much as they just need our day-to-day presence.

    Thanks for re-publishing this so that new readers (like me!) could be inspired by it.

  42. Mandy

    I love this article! Children are all so different and unique. My two daughters have been complete opposites in accomplishing “milestones”! Sometimes it’s just a tad bit annoying to be asked for the 20th time in one week if my 14 month old is walking yet! No, she is not and I am okay with that! They all get to where they need to be in their own time and at their own pace. Your article explained it beautifully! Thanks a bunch!

    • Stefani

      Had to laugh. Both of mine, boy and girl 18 mo apart, walked between 17-18 mo. No interest in it before and I was the same “they will get there. They are fine in every other way.” I was amazed people were worried for me!

  43. Pingback: What Our Kids Need to Know

  44. Ejohns

    Thank you so much for this post. I am sick of my child constantly being placed in a competition that he never signed up for. And as much as I try to feel comfortable knowing that he is a smart boy and learns things in his own way and on his own time it does grate on my nerves when other parents feel the need to say how “advanced” their children are. His teacher called home just the other day to say that he is severely behind in his letters, yet I know that when he is home he can tell me what they all are, and the sounds. Maybe if they didn’t feel so pressured by everyone, children could relax a little and really let their creativity shine.
    I agree wholeheartedly with what you said. The most important thing for children to know is that they are loved and appreciated.

  45. Pingback: Isaiah is 7 months old! « Celebrate We Will: Orange Moon Moments and Other A-Team Happenings

  46. Josh

    As a high school teacher and father of three younger ones, I’m not sure that this list doesn’t apply to what all high school graduates…and their parents… should know as well. I’m sure that knowing you are brilliant in whatever way that is is much more valuable than many, many other things we foist upon high schoolers.

  47. Julie

    The link to the WorldBook lists has a 404 error.

    I did all the worrying with #1 Son. #2 Son? Piece of cake. Thanks for reiterating what is truly important about our job as parents.

    J

  48. ohh I have an almost-four-year-old daughter. she is my treasure. She deserves only the best. She’s happy and free. But just one thing, candies and chocolates are no-no’s. Sometimes I give her one… two.

  49. Pingback: Tiersmonde › O que uma criança de 4 anos deve saber.

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  52. TonyShelly2006

    Such a beautiful read. I found this months ago but someone just recently resurfaced it for me!

    We’re now doing what I call “Magical Childhood Act” – This holiday season (Dec 1 – Jan 1st) we’ll be doing something magical with our children, daily! The special thing about this is that it could become such a habit that it will go beyond the holiday season and just become a part of daily life. I sure hope so.

    Childhood is so precious – I had a great one and I have amazing memories that seem like fairy tails when I look back at them and I can only hope to bring those same thoughts/feelings to my children.

  53. Jenifer

    This made me cry. Thank you for this.

  54. This was such a great post. In my wallet, I carry around a fortune from a fortune cookie I got one day. It days – The most important things in life aren’t things. So very true.

  55. Pingback: What Should a 4 Year Old Know? | A Magical Childhood « #EdTech Leadership

  56. Ron

    This is great. I was thinking of what to give my kids this Christmas and toys have always been the first things to light up inside my brain. Now, I think I’ll pick on books and read with them and toys that are meant to hone their creativity and imagination. Great post!

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  58. eric

    oh, my….we are so behind other countries that good jobs are bleeding from our borders to other nations…

    how can you be so blasé and touchy-feely?

    4-year-old children SHOULD be able to write their name, know the planets, list several presidents AND count to 100…

    homeschooling should be ILLEGAL unless you have yourself gone to school, and proven your intelligence…

    Christ, we are screwed.

    • Shelley

      I love this and think that people like Eric who posted negatively about it must not have kids. My daughter is 4 and she can write her name and all of the alphabet, but I know for sure that she doesn’t know a single planet, and why should she? Presidents…..at this age? No need. The author got it completely right.

    • Amelia

      No a four year old Should know exactly what is listed here.
      A person teaching a four year old should be encouraging them to learn many things such as those you mention but that really wasn’t the point of the post.

      Every child is different, every child will learn different things at a different pace, what matters is that every child be allowed to do so while knowing that they are loved, safe and secure.

      Going to school is certainly no proof of intelligence (in itself a different matter than knowledge or ability to learn or teach), assuming that homeschooled kids are ignorant, on the other hand, is indicative of, well, ignorance.

    • Aden

      Touchy-feely? Aren’t we now coping with how to live in an insensitive enough world? Where people are trained to be consumerist robots all their lives, or killing machines, or immune to other people’s suffering? Bring ON the touchy-feely, please! We need it! Or yes, indeed, we ARE screwed!

    • KP

      Re; “Oh my, . . . ”
      These are the kind of comments that come from folks who know absolutely nothing about learning, brain development, or child development. Any Mynah bird could be taught to regurgitate the things that only require the kind of rote memorization Eric refers to as “learning.” But it’s not. We’re talking about human beings here. Early learning should be sensorial in nature (involving the 5 senses and including proprioceptive and vestibular activities). And most importantly, it must include a relationship between a teacher (parent, teacher, care-giver) and a child that is positive and promotes self-efficacy. Research indicates that learning is as much about relationship as it is about the concepts being taught. Sorry Eric. Following YOUR advice would actually make us really “screwed” (repeating what I’m assuming is your highest level vocabulary).

    • Ann

      Eric you can give your opinions without being a complete and utter jerk about it. Your harsh comment really kind of bites you in the butt and shows everyone what a pompous, ignorant person you really are. If you’re not really that way then I would reconsider how harshly you express your opinions and beliefs. You don’t have to be a jerk to express different opinions. And seriously the comment about how homeschooling should be illegal??? What an ignorant and judgmental comment to make! Talk about someone who is uneducated. It’s kind of ironic how you are commenting about education yet can be so narrow minded and ignorant.

    • Catrina

      Ron. In many other countries children start school when they are seven and still they are on the same level as the UK students by the age of eleven. I started school when I was seven. I did teach myself to read much earlier but didn’t learn to write before I started my first year in school. Still we all had to learn how to read and write our own language, English, French and Spanish before the age of eighteen. I think we learned more European history and European literature too. Not only our own language, history and literature. Maths and physic is probably on the same level.

    • Catrina

      Eric. In many other countries children start school when they are seven and still they are on the same level as the UK students by the age of eleven. I started school when I was seven. I did teach myself to read much earlier but didn’t learn to write before I started my first year in school. Still we all had to learn how to read and write our own language, English, French and Spanish before the age of eighteen. I think we learned more European history and European literature too. Not only our own language, history and literature. Maths and physic is probably on the same level.

    • Jesse Hamilton

      Oh what a tragedy to think we have to compare our children to other countries!! Do you really academic performance is important to a child? The best thing we can do for our children is to just be there for them and allow them to develop as they will. If there is something we should be teaching them it would be life skills not acedemics.

  59. Pingback: What We Can Learn From Swedish Preschools | A Magical Childhood

  60. 1) I have a little girl to turn 4 next month. Our other just turned 2 today. Funny how having a couple of larvae around that age makes one key in on the discussion just that much more.

    2) You suggestions of what a four year old should know immediately reminded me of a post I wrote in ’08 which was done essentially to highlight a quote by Pablo Picasso… a quote that is certainly in the favorite five of my 40 year life. Link: And what do we teach our children?

  61. this is my first time ever commenting. but ive read for a couple of years. this is so timely and perfect. thank you for sharing.

  62. Melissa

    Such a wonderful article!

  63. jill

    In a word – perfect. A delight to read; I will share with others. Good luck an keep writing.

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  68. Allison Bay

    Very well said. I’m glad to see there are like minded people out there. Our oldest son didn’t know all his letters when he started Kindergarden, but that doesn’t mean he never learned to read. The summer before he started Kindergarden I remember trying to work with him on learning his letters and it was a horrible experience for both of us. He hated it, I was frustrated and eventually I just stopped. A few months later he was ready to learn, and it was the easiest thing for him. No more forcing, no struggle, just curiosity and eventually the feeling of success about learning something.

  69. muskaan

    thats so wonderful,& this makes me feel proud since i do most of it.thanks

  70. Sameer

    ABSOLUTELY SPOT ON!!!

  71. What an awesome post… I need to print this out :-)

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  75. john

    Great article. Really glad to see the child referred to as “he” equally as often, instead of just “she” all the time.

  76. Christina

    Completely and totally agree. It was also a good reminder too. We are our childrens favourite toy. Speaking of which I should get off the computer and put it into practice!

  77. Pingback: What Should A Four Year Old Know? | Parent Talk

  78. Wow, this is so true. I’m a preschool teacher from Norway and this is the intention in our curriculum for preschools. All preschools in Norway have to work according to this curriculum. The sad part is that our government is trying to add more “knowledge” to our preschools. We now have to teach them more mathematics and language (Norwegian) than before. Preschools are starting to look more like schools than preschools. I believe that the most important thing we can teach our children is that they are loved no matter what and that what they are interested in, is valuable!

  79. Dawn

    Hi. I was doing research for a newsletter article for my local Multiple Birth Club about what skills pre schoolers should be learning. I love your article “What should a 4 year old know”. Am I able to print this in our newsletter please?

  80. Summer

    I do think this list is great but, as someone who has taught in the inner city it is imperative that children come in with at least basic social, academic and self-care skills. I have taught children that come into kindergarten unable to properly feed themselves using utensils, put on or take off their coats and use the toliet independently. Having basic skills already aquired before entering school affords them the time to focus on learning about “dinosaurs and rocket ships”. I would never advise a parent to “drill” their child in numbers and letters but DO take the time teach them basics in FUN ways! Let them help set the table, have them count out how many plates, cups and napkins will be needed. DO have them bake and with you and use that opportunity to teach them about using numbers to measure. DO teach them basic colors and patterns using music and clothing. And yes I willl completely agree with the list on this one: READ to them as much as possible! And then ASK QUESTIONS about the story! All these things will help your child not only in kindergarten but will help them to enjoy all those other wonderful things on the list.

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  82. fantastic and I have to agree xx

  83. Maria

    Thank you for calming my fears and making me realize that all the things my son knows now are all the things he needs to!!!!! I absolutely love this and think you could not be more right!!!!!

  84. Susan

    My daughter just turned 4, all her friends know how to write their names and more. Whenever I have tried to teach her she has shown no interest but she loves to teach me, so I play along now. I was just getting worried and was surfing the net for some ways to teach her, before she starts school next year, when I came across this article. Now, I’ll just let her enjoy this magical phase in her life.
    Hope and pray that she will grow up to be a kind and level headed person.

  85. It is 5 am and i have been up since 3 thinking about what to do to help advance my 3 children i have 2 daughters ages 7 and 4 and i have a 2 year old son , i felt like i wasn’t doing enough maybe i need a tutor etc… but i found this article and as i read it i started to cry .I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! thank you so much ! xoxo

  86. Adrian Gonzalez

    I am super happy that I stumbled on to this, I was googling on if I should be worried if my son can not do a particular thing. I got so caught up in thinking of other kids doing things that I forgot that what really matters is him. I was reading this and it brought tears to my eyes. Ive had friends tell me that their child does this and that as if there was a point system and they were winning. Thank you much for this posting and I certainly will share with all my fellow parents.

  87. beautiful, thanks for the reminder. x

  88. Someone just resposted this link on FB, and it couldn’t have been in better timing! My sweet girl turned four just 2weeks ago — making her literally the baby of her “class” (her age group based on school year). And though we’ve never adhered to mainstream ways of doing anything (esp in our approach to parenting) in her young life… as this school year approached, and the majority of her friends prepared to begin school (K4), I do admit to feeling just a little pressured that she was not. You are sooo right about this world being way too competitive!! Because I sat there – normally a very level headed & logical person – actually playing tug of war with myself. Fighting between what my heart knew was best for my child vs. what society was trying to convince me was best… all the while, becoming worried that without the more “structured” learning time, she wouldn’t get enough through her play, and would fall behind the others (etc.). Your post is exactly what I needed to read! Thank you sooo much for taking the time to put these thoughts out in print! You have freed me to once again let my daughter take the lead, to learn through the lessons this magical world has to offer us! Blessings!

  89. Jayda Siggers

    Well said!

  90. Bridget

    I am such a typical type A personality. I try too hard to do everything and to be perfect at it. I am terrible at play and worse at am terrible at the ambiguity of childhood. Thanks for the reminder about creativity and the messiness of life. I endevor each day to be a better mom. Perhaps I should start with no trying so hard. :)

  91. driftwoods

    Fantastic. Sharing this with my homeschooling community @ thehomeschoolcoop.com. And, with a son at 3 1/2 – sharing this with my family, most of all.

  92. tutu

    My favourite is when someon posts and asks “anyone elses child NOT doing this yet?” and the majority of responses are from moms saying “oh… Bobby is doing that or Suzie has been doing that for a while now.” UGH>

  93. Wow – love this. And it’s come at a really good time for me.

    I was sickened the other day when a mum bragged to me that by having done Kumon (every day) from as early as possible, her 4yo could write her numbers up to 80 and count much further. She was surprised that my daughter starts … how shall I say… creative counting (!) after around 20 and “is two whole months older!” than hers.

    That kind of scenario is very common in here in Asia – where uber competitive tiger-mothers abound.

    Thanks for your post. It confirms my suspicion that her favourite past times – horseback riding, swimming and storytime – are much more important for my daughter right now than striving to be a maths whizz.

    Cheers,
    Your newest follower!

  94. This is wonderful, i could not agree more!!! i wish more parents would think this way. I am a huge believer in patience and honoring children’s developmental pace. Still smiling about the part about having a piece of yard to dig into a mud pit – we recently moved and it took us a few hours to patch up our yard – but it was so worth it!!! thank you again – fantastic!

  95. Mrs D

    This made me weep happy tears. Thank you ♥

  96. Ale

    Thanks for this post, from my heart. We recently have left the school and homeschool our six and four years old kids…most of the days we are the happiest but sometimes I stress myself with the idea that I am missing something…
    Can I share it in spanish? of course with a link to this blog….
    Hugs.

  97. Thank you. Seriously, as I clicked through to your page I was steeling myself. I thought, “Okay let’s see how much I stink as a parent.” Well according to your list, I’m a pretty good parent. That was a nice change. I too think there are more important things than accomplishments, especially for young children. It’s nice to feel supported in that.

  98. Brilliance! Thank you for this. I am going to share this on our Slow Family Living site as it is so in line with why we started Slow Family in the first place! Life is long. Childhood is fleeting! Linger in it as magically as we possibly can! And if we’re lucky, that magic can carry over into the rest of life.

  99. Pingback: What We Need to Know | Slow Family Living

  100. I love this! It’s such a beautiful description of childhood!

  101. Amazing article at just the right time!

  102. Perfect. Just… perfect

  103. Nikki

    Thanks so much! Great insight & info!

  104. Good article, so sad that our kids live in such a competitive culture.

  105. lovely! thank you for sharing this! i will be sharing this with friends…

  106. Mummy Smiles

    What a fantastic post!!!! I could not possibly agree with you anymore.
    I have also shared this with my readers :)

  107. Great great article – love this list and have shared it on my blog’s facebook page!

  108. I couldn’t have said it better myself! You expressed exactly what has been in my heart. I get so frustrated with parents pushing their kids and competing to have the “smartest” kid. They have no idea what damage they are doing.

    Only one thing I would disagree with — using glitter. As a former preschool teacher, I now have a phobia of glitter. LOL I am open to all kinds of messes, I just can’t tolerate glitter! I hope that doesn’t scar my kids… ;)

    • Linda goodwin

      As a former preschool teacher for many years…get out a cookie sheet or two…place the glitter containers ini it…and paste and glue away. Easy cleanup…simply pour the excess glitter back into its container!

  109. Carol

    TOTALLY agree with everything you’ve said, you’re family are very lucky to grown up in such a sensible and fun family. Can I please make one tiny little niggle though? I love how you’ve switched gender for each point from he/she, but then you said he could ‘immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud’ while she could ‘spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses’. Could you maybe switch the genders for these suggestions? My little girl has just turned 3 and I was unpleasantly surprised with all the ‘pink princess’ stuff she received for her birthday, while for my son’s 5th week earlier it was all robots and monsters; so I’m just trying to fight those stereotypes in my own little way.
    This is not a criticism at all, just a tiny suggestion. X

  110. Danielle

    …..and why are such wonderful simple things so overlooked? Thank you for your article, its on its way to every mommy I know. Childhood IS magical

  111. Terra

    Thank you for this! This has truly made me look at the magic of childhood and I will be making major changes.

  112. amy

    love this!!! 4 year old making daisy chains pretty impressive to me!!! I live internationally in a mega city and my 4 year old speaks 3 languages but does not make daisy chains … we have to let our kids be who their environment, family and culture make them and embrace and love them for that!!! love this list!!

  113. lynn

    YYYYYYYEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!
    Thank you!

  114. I love love love this article!!

  115. Lisa A

    Before he started school, my son had almost zero interest in learning letters or numbers, even though he loved books. I was a bit concerned that maybe I should be pushing him a little more but didn’t really act on it. No worries, though! When he got into kindergarten, he learned the numbers and letters right away and was reading before the year was through. Now, as a 6th grader, his reading level is at about the 12th grade/college level, and he does very well in math. You know your child best, and you should go with your own instincts. If learning becomes pressure-ridden and unpleasant for a child when they are only 3 or 4 years old, think what an effect that could have on the rest of their school career (and life beyond).

  116. nettlejuice

    Love it!
    Couldn’t agree more.

  117. Jana

    AGREED, AGREED, AGREED. This article makes me teary. It’s so very, very true. Thank you!

  118. Juen Shrewsburyt

    June
    Love this article, I believe in the park, pond, puddles, taking a walk, the beach anythime of year, being out in the sun, rain, snow and even mud! they are only little once why rush a perfect time, enjoy it with them.

  119. Grandma Nancy

    Super article!!! I agree with it totally!!! It brought tears to my eyes!

  120. Thank you!! This is fantastic!!

  121. Lili

    your beautiful and wise words read like a poem. I read as my 10 year old daughter listened and our hearts were warmed as you described our everyday life….

  122. happyhooligans

    Absolutely brilliant. It brought tears to my eyes. I’ve shared on my f/b and emailed all of my daycare parents, and I’ll continue to share this whenever the opportunity arises. Sometimes it’s hard to convince some parents that PLAY is far more important at this age, than academics. Our children young and completely carefree for such a short time, I believe it’s critical to pack those early years with as much fun, adventure and good, old-fashioned play as possible. Thank you for sharing the most BANG-ON “list” I’ve ever seen.

  123. Jo

    That is great I have to say that lot of what u said I looked at. My son is 4 and half and he is not going to school next year. Australia makes it hard for us parents that we have to choose. Just have one cut of point all the same. Thanks jo

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  125. You should share this every school year. I loved reading it and learned a lot from it. My oldest was reading at four. I admit, I had something to do with that. Since her I have mellowed out as a parent. I am not so pushy at them being the best. I have become a better mother and I think I try to have them be kids that know the things you listed here. I am glad to have the reminder. This was beautiful.

  126. Melisa

    Thank you so much for posting this!! We chose not to put our 4 year old in pre-k this year. We have had many people give their opinion about keeping her home. She is learning so much more from being able to play and explore the areas she is interested in on a daily basis. She is always wanting to learn new things naturally and it is so much fun watching her learn from play!!! :)

  127. Thanks for this great article! I was just talking with a friend of mine today about this kind of stuff, and this was just what I needed to hear. As I listen to my 3-almost-4 year old playing “freestyle” in the living room, it is an encouragement and a great reminder to just let her expand and explore, building her tools for learning, and not worry about a laundry list of knowledge and skills that she will eventually learn, and probably much faster and easier if she can discover them when she is ready.

  128. Romy Polizotto

    I agree wholeheartedly! And what happens when you put celery in food color? I’d try it but I don’t like celery:)

  129. Pingback: A great reminder for "pushy" parents!

  130. Dee

    Thanks for sharing this post! It is definitely more than just academic.Our child needs to know that he/she is loved for who he/she is and that he/she will not be pressured to achieve but rather to learn in a fun way :)

  131. Mom2ThreeBoys

    Although, I see your point, I feel this article is a bit irresponsible. Yes, many parents do compare and compete when it comes to what their kid can do better than yours. However, what about parents that just want to know if theire child is on track with their typically developing peers? Many of the things you listed will not come naturally for ALL kids. As the mother of two kids who are delayed I don’t appreciate your implications. The wait and see attidude can be so detrimental. Children with learning dissabilities, delays, or ASD can worsen their symptoms and quality of life by waiting to see if the ‘grow out of it’. I think you should at least have a disclaimer. You need to let parents know that there are certain milestones that are crucial, not how high they can count, and are red flags for certain disorders. Children with ASD do not engage in imagination. So please don’t tell us that ALL children will eventually do these things. Some need more help than others. I don’t want to know how many colors or planets someones kid knows, I want to know when my child SHOULD be doing certain things like pointing and waving, and what to watch out for!

    • Brice

      ASD=Autism Spectrum Disorder? Mom2ThreeBoys check out websites like Autism Speaks, I am sure they have all types of info on social development that would be helpful. Blessings Upon You

  132. Beth Mazerik

    Molly, this is Matt’s mom. Awesome! I love this. I “found” it today, sent from Karie a long while back. How intetesting that I am closing in on my first MOPS presentation in San Jose this month! Well put confirmation of what is in my heart for the current generation of young moms! Beth Mazerik mother of 7, foster mom of 65

  133. What a great article! I especially like point 4 about allowing your child to immerse himself in what he enjoys. I was stressed out that my son wasn’t interested in pre-reading skills and reading enough at ages 4 – 6, but by 7 years old he loved to read. Now, at age 12, you can hardly find him without a book in hand.

  134. Someone posted this on Facebook today and I was so happy to read it. I raised both of my children this way and have no regrets. We rejoiced over nature, colored outside the lines, and read so many books as a family that I can’t even count. They are 20 and 16 now and we’re STILL reading books aloud as a family and exploring nature every chance we get. My first is on a full-ride academic scholarship for college. Somehow, she learned everything she needed to know. We didn’t fail to teach the things they needed to know but we weren’t in a hurry and we factored in all the learning that was taking place while we “played and talked.” It was an IMMENSE amount. Relax and enjoy your children. That doesn’t mean relax and let them raise themselves. Simply stop comparing and just start doing. It’s over with before you can blink your eyes. Trust me, I know..

  135. Holly kest

    Love this!

  136. lisa klingener

    I am a prekindergarten teacher at a preschool. I think your article is amazing and I want to share it with everyone. As it brought a tear to my eye, I realized my best moments are when a parent tells me something their child learned or can do now and I can’t remember what or how I taught that skill. I can’t remember because we were doing something silly or I was loving them and teaching without knowing it! Thank you again for explaining what a four year old should know so well!

  137. As a parent of a newly turned 4 year old, this is a great reminder. Thanks for sharing, Jenn!

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  139. Sara

    I love this! I get so sick of hearing moms talk about their child’s accomplishments. I think learning at this age should be “on accident” through playing board games or reading books. I only wish that every parent could read this!

  140. Laurie P

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I have a three and a half year old and almost everyone we know with kids my daughters age are starting their kids to preschool this year. The parents tell me their kids are “…learning so much” or “He/She needs to go” or “I don’t want them to be behind when they start kindergarten” and then they say “Aren’t you sending yours?” I always have a hard time explaining why I don’t think it is necessary. This is exactly how I feel and the perfect way to say it!

  141. Great information! so important for kids to just be kids!!!!

  142. A J

    AMEN!! I get so frustrated when I see mothers rushing their children from one activity to another. One of my friends remarked a day or so ago how busy she was and how she was trying to find the time to fit in another lesson for her kids. She said they had committed every hour from school end till bed – why??? I was concerned about my son and his best friend not playing with each other much anymore. My son said “Mom, we are still best friends but he is too busy with piano and soccer and softball and homework to play” How sad!

  143. Shane

    Wow, it really just comes down to finding the time to read with you child and let them explore life in a loving caring environment.

  144. I understand and agree with what you are saying. When my eldest daughter was a year away from kindergarten, I read what they wanted the children to know WHEN LEAVING KINDERGARTEN, and majority of it was stuff like, know how to follow directions, know how to be in a group, know how to make friends, know how to use imagination, eager to learn, emotionally responsible & kind to others, personal hygiene, basic persistence in learning physical skills, communicate clearly. The rest took up less space.

    For those who really do want their kids to know academic things to be “ahead” in school, when I went to my daughter’s kindergarten pre-test, I learned that they wanted to see:

    • Whether the child knew what a group was (as in “which group does this penny belong in?”
    • The letters of the alphabet, shapes, letters and numbers (recognize and name alphabet letters, know alphabet, name shapes by sight, know 1-10 by sight, count to 20)
    • How to turn to the next page in a book, where the words are in the book, where the pictures are in the book
    • What is the next one to put down in a series that is a pattern
    • Whether she could write her name and how to write and spell it (one teacher earlier had also told me to try to teach them to write the first letter uppercase, and all the others lowercase)
    • Whether they can draw a straight line and a circle
    • Whether they can communicate with the teacher, and how they do it.
    • What their personality was like
    • How they could best help the child
    • What a rhyme is (Can you say a word that rhymes with cat?); What an opposite is (What is the opposite of big?)
    • Little things about weather (Is today a rainy day, or a sunny day?)

    There’s more, but I don’t remember all of it.

  145. Lul

    THANK YOU!!! I am a stay @ home mom of 2 boys 4 & 2.5yrs old and have always felt I wasn’t doing enough with them and was constantly anxious from the day I became pregnant with #1, always looking for the best of everything for them. I kept 2nd guessing myself when I didn’t want them to go to public school, when I chose to never feed them formula (nursed only), and when I wouldn’t buy them every toy on the market, and wouldn’t buy them junkfood…etc because I was constantly criticized left & right by those closest to me (my own parents & family)…but I stuck to it! And I really LOVE who they are, how they have developed, and I’m proud to say I’m a mother of 2 gorgeous, affectionate, compassionate, & loving kids. In them I realize the difference academically, how they learn differently, how they respond differently, and honestly I’m enjoying it and building in academics and looking for sources all over and I appreciate THIS and other helpful sites you have shared…so in all THANK YOU!!!!

  146. I was thrilled to be connected to you blog through Beth Hardison Hess. This article– as a grandmama of four — 6,5,4, and 3– warmed my heart. And, I marveled that the things a kid really needs to know at four– is the same thing a grandmama needs to know– at —- whatever age she finds herself when this season comes upon her. Thanks for sharing!

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  148. Love, love, love this post. I mentioned and linked back to it today in my blog. I hope it brings you some traffic :)

  149. sandi anderson

    I am the luckiest grandma around! My two daughter-in-laws and our sons spend every minute possible with their kids–like they say “why should we go somewhere else when our best friends live right here in our house with us.” or “We still have glitter and finger paint here and there, but boy did we have fun.” These Grandkids are number one in all of our books!!!

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  151. Adrienne

    I want to print this and hang it on my fridge to remind myself!!! I’m not able to copy and paste just the text. Help? Please?

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  154. tobemom

    I totally agree with you… I don’t have kids yet, I am 28 now. I am a doctor, but being a “Mom” was/is my sole/ most inportant goal in life. After reading this article I cannot wait to become a mom… I am trying for 6 months now but my schedule does not cooperate. Good luck to all the mothers!

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  156. What a fabulous perspective! It makes me SO excited to have a 4 year old… art projects, family cooking, and general mess-making sound so fun to me. My daughter is only 9 months old, but I realize that I am already setting the foundation for the things on this list, like knowing that she is loved unconditionally, that her needs and desires are valued by her parents, and that we are trustworthy and safe. I’m printing this out and saving it, and sharing it with everyone I know. Thanks again!

  157. Amanda

    Thank you for this beautiful post! It is so, absolutely true. I live in Canada, and my 4 year old just started Junior Kindergarten this September. He *loves* going to school, and I feel like we definitely made the right decision for him. BUT we are also very careful not to compare him with other children or to attempt to force him to learn things because he “needs” to know them. As far as “secular education” is concerned, I’ve always felt that will come in time, especially if you listen to your child’s cues if/when they display interest in a certain subject. What is truly important to teach them, especially when they are still young and you have more time with them, are all of the things you mentioned. Teaching them that they are loved, that they are special, and the magic of the world, those are lessons that are far more important then what they will learn in school, and those are lessons that will stay with them forever.

  158. Lesh

    This article is what we have done with our children. Our two oldest are in the top 10% of there class. It is so true, they will learn at their own pace just like we do. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to be with my children and enjoy them when they are little. It is such a short time, let’s make the most of it. Thank you!

  159. Kelly R.

    This is a beautiful post that brought tears to my eyes! Best advice for any parent of young children! Thank you for sharing!

  160. Thank you for saying what so many parents need to hear!

    One of my absolute favorite things to do with my 2 year old is cook as a family. She LOVES to pull up her stool and I let her make a huge mess! She has learned so many important skills standing there next to me, but the most important, is that I love her and she will always be loved by me and her dad.

    Thank you!

  161. Mel

    This is totally what I needed to hear. I was so sad last night as I saw frustration and a little tear run down my little ones face as she struggled so hard to recognize the letter F as we went through cut up letters that were sent home from preschool so she could name out each letter and match them up with the lower case letters. I always worry does she know enough, is she too far behind. This has put it all in perspective for me and for that I say Thank you!!

  162. Kathy

    I came across your article recently and I just wanted to say how much I wish more parents and child care centers had this attitude. I work for a corporate child care center and the attitudes that the centers and the parents have leave me feeling frustrated and angry. We just recently finished conferences and out of the 10 I had only one parent said that their biggest concern was that his daughter be happy and have the chance to just play and have fun. Parents are so paranoid that if their child isn’t reciting Shakespeare by kindergarten that something’s wrong! Newsflash: It has really only been in recent years that we’ve developed this attitude that places academics in early childhood years above all else. And guess what? For those of us that missed this cutoff we turned out perfectly fine. Before going into kindergarten I couldn’t write my name or recognize all my letters. But somehow I managed to eventually go on and graduate college cum laude with honors. My older sister was the same way and she recently graduated one of the top 10 in her class for physician assistant studies and now works for a world renowned surgeon. Children learn and grow on their terms and pushing it does nothing to help.

  163. Lilly

    This is lovely and so true only the other morning I was having a heated discussion with my partner about our 4 1/2 yr olds lack of interest in numbers. He thinks he should be top of the game I however think he’s a child it’ll all fall into place – just like reading and writing has. Childhood should be stress free and filled with laughter and muddy puddles :)

  164. jhearn2

    You inspired me to write a post about your article:

    http://jennhearn.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/his-noggin-part-ii/

  165. Sabrina Anderson

    This article simply could not have come at a better time for me. It literally brought me to tears. My 4 year old is going to a speech and developmental screening tomorrow and I’m really hoping that they can help but this morning I found myself getting so frustrated and frankly mad that he couldn’t simply point out to me a few letters from memory. I ended our learning time and walked away feeling both defeated and like a terrible mom for getting mad at him for something that is out of his control. So, I got on the computer, yes looking for one of those lists so that I could give myself a heads up on what to expect at the appointment tomorrow and I stumbled across this article. No, this doesn’t mean that I can ignore the fact that he does need some help but it reminded me that in spite of it all, he is still smart and brilliant in his own way. He is a happy boy and he is certainly loved, and I know that he knows it. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing this.

  166. Ada

    Thanks so much for this article. My four years are expected to know their multiplication, count 1 to 150. My daughter can write her name and surname which is impressive but I know it’s too much for their baby brain. I had to pull them out of their school for another because learning was becoming an uphill task for them at this early stage. Some other parents think I’m being unnecessarily worried about their mental state. But within me, I know I am doing the right thing for them. I don’t want them to be struggling in future with their school work. So, I’m giving them a good foundation by letting them play and learn. A time would come when they would need all the seriousness in academics. Thanks for your post. It has strengthened my views.

  167. Ely

    I loved this article . Parents need to spend time with their kids that all they need , they need to feel love and confident in themselves everything else will come after . I have a 4 year old girl and I just love to spend time with her I just feel like a kid when I am with her playing all over the house and I can feel her happiness . Thanks for this article it truly beautiful.

  168. Jessica

    Just a note to let you know that I read this article regularly and sincerely thank you for sharing. It is an excellent reminder for me and like another reader said above, it has strengthened my view about what our children need.

  169. I needed this! Thank you from a hard working mother of three!

  170. I so needed this! Every now and then a good reminder is needed!

  171. Sandy stephens

    That’s was wonderful. Thanks.

  172. pooja

    wow thank you very much .. i am a mother of 5 year old and very worried that my sons younger cousins could do so much than him … i feel so good and light after reading your post that really in this competitive world we forget that children rarely know the problems of life and by comparing them to other children we are putting a question on their individuality…

  173. Heather

    Thank you! As a former educator and stay at home mother of four beautiful, independent, caring and intelligent children, it is refreshing to read about life experiences and not book smarts. Our children are like sponges. but they need more than facts and numbers to get by in the real world. They need life lessons on manners, sharing oneself with others, common sense, respect and how to use that wonderful imagination that God gave them.

    • mom of three

      there are lots of challenging times being a full-time mom to all my 3 kids since birth (now 4, 2 & 6mos). thank u so much for sharing these life inspiring reminders. it surely cn touch the hearts & minds of millions of mom like me. God bless u!

  174. Thank you so much for this article. I was just looking up what info on what my 4 year old should know because she always wants to participate in my kindergarteners homework time and I wanted to structure a plan for her instead of “wasting time” not teaching her. Well, I will certainly allow her to have fun participating in homework time but will have a much different attitude toword her learning environment. So glad this was the first article I came across!!

  175. Alexia

    What a great read! Not at all what I was expecting when reading the title, but pleasently surprised!
    Thanks for opening my eyes :)

  176. Ann

    I’m reading and responding to this as “Gamma.” Just what my four-year-old grandson calls me. Our days, when I get him, start when we create a “To-Do” list. We like to stick to it, but often we don’t. It’s a simple list. His wants. On it you’ll find: eat, read, play, walk. The one he likes to change up on is the play. BUT, what I really give him is attention. We don’t eat lunch unless he has a pile of books that we never get through, but we’ve read so many times. Each time I ask him about something that might occur or a question about what just happened in the book, and he’ll say, “I don’t know. Tell me.” That’s my trigger to keep reading by turning the page. Other times I’m on the floor with him as we play trains and cars. We build railroad crossing signs out of pencils and old wooden spools of thread. I want him to realize we don’t buy things we want all the time. Be creative. He also has his own “Tool Box” parked in my office closet. It’s a cardboard box. Inside you’ll find all kinds of useful craft/art supplies. I want him to be his own artist. Today he drew five pictures. What were they? I’m not sure. But what they really were — his imagination. We laugh so often at silly things. We run, scream, and just have fun while he’s here. We love our time together. How will I remember all this? Since he was a year old, I started to type a diary/journal of our times together. I am close to 150 pages. He’ll get this when he’s over 21. I want him to remember his times at his grandparents’ house and the fun/funny things we all did together. I know how important the first five years are, and I am also doing the same for my granddaughter when she’s with me.

  177. I love this post and have shared it with many friends. Thank you for encouraging me in something I believe in and helping me remember that this is a gift, freedom to be kids, staying home and homeschooling!

  178. Jaz

    My girl’s an early developer (like her father), and it makes me cringe when someone asks direct questions about what she does (most of the time it’s from insecure parents). Why do people have to be so obsessed what children do or don’t do versus *who* they are? :(

  179. Emma

    Can I just say what brilliant words! I have 4 children and my 3 yr old is super intelligent, which I am extremely proud of, my 8yr old is very clever and advanced too but he has always had different interests so in a different way. My 5 yr old hasn’t been as quick in stuff as they were/are but she is so artistic and crafty and is brilliant at that and is on par for her age.
    My 2 yr old is clever in her own way even though she isn’t advanced like her brother she is still gorgeous and clever little girl- they are all different and even though some are cleverer than others they are all the same and all children and should more importantly than anything else be having fun and being children!

  180. Reblogged this on Mamma Mia and commented:
    A very refreshing view about what is truly important for children to learn. I whole heartedly agree with everything in this post :-) I was so worried about Seppe but that is because I was comparing him to his brother. I have to accept that Seppe will learn what he needs to at his own pace and that doesn’t make him less talented than his brother. Sometimes we just need to step back, take a deep breath, and enjoy our children. They already grow up way too fast, there is no need to rush them.

  181. Adhiya

    Very true.. I was searching that what should my 2 1/2 years old son should know. and, got to see your post.. Thanks a lot…. :)

  182. Just stumbled acorss this blog… looking for different ideas to help my daughter learn the alphabet- you ended up choking me up! This is just beautiful and so true. THANK YOU!

  183. waleed

    Excellent post

  184. flores

    Thank you so much for this!

  185. I LOVE this more than anything!!!! I say ask yourself what 3 words would you want to be used to describe your child – I love that my children think the world is a magical place and know how to use their imaginations to build forts, and write creative stories, and play dress up and still believe in fairies- gheesh – I still do!!!!

  186. This is the perfect link to share with my daycare parents. I am a licensed child care provider and I strongly believe that children learn trough play and exploration. I have many parents ask when they tour my home, “what are you teaching the children?” I answer, I do not teach them, I just guide and support their learning. I give them a handout describing what children learn while playing in each oh the play areas; such as library, dramatic play, science, music and movement, art, naming stoves, blacks, puzzles, sensory, and outdoors. Thank you so much for sharing, I too will share with my daycare parents. :)

  187. Pingback: A new website, a new focus - Little Snuggle Library

  188. ” musical instruments (real ones *AND multicultural ones*) ” …um, yikes! best try and keep those offensive binaries from your four year old.

  189. musical instruments (real ones *AND multicultural ones*) ….aaaaand hopefully keep those wildly offensive binaries from the next generation, if possible…

    • Sorry, perhaps my wording was confusing. It’s not intended to mean they are two different things, more along the lines of “they should be real and multicultural… not plastic and fake.” Obviously, real and multicultural are the same things. That should go without saying. :)

  190. Fabiola Menares

    “Being spontaneous and having fun can relieve stress and create positive memories. When your children are engaged and having fun they are learning. Play is truly the work of Childhood”
    Faby

  191. cindy

    Thank you! I was so frustrated with my four year old today. I made a plastic box just for playing with pink sand. We added water, shovels and some cups and then world war 3 broke out with my 2 1/2 year old and my 4 year old. She loves the sand and so she played for quit a while after my son was done. When she got inside the sand tub and started getting sand all over herself and the deck, I lost it. The house is a mess, the laundry is piled up and now here I have one more mess to clean up. Anyway I was looking for some insight…some understanding so that I could just let her play and not worry about the mess. I googled what should my four year old know and yours was the first one on the list. My heart has been touched….this was exactly what I wanted someone to tell me. Thank you!

  192. I am glad you have said this. We use to have the best education in the world, but today the Department Of Education has turned the whole thing upside down, and leads parents to think the kids are in a race.

  193. ANL

    I was freaked out!! My son just doesn’t know his alphabet and nothing that I do is working. I just want my kids to be better than me so I had a plan for summer to teach, teach, teach until he was ahead of the game. But, alas you are right. What was I thinking? Ethan walked late, but does anybody care? NO!! My love for him has been misplaced, but now I can see that. Thanks so much for bringing me back down to reality.

  194. Chrissie

    I have done so much research into learning at a young age, as my 3.5 year old hits school in September and what I found was play based learning was best for young minds. It’s great not to pressure them into anything, yes I’m sure we would all like to say our kids are the smartest, fastest, etc, etc, but with play based learning they learn skills while having fun, which leads to greater understanding. I’m lucky, I have her registered in a school where they’re a project school for play based learning the first two years. No desks and chalkboards, rather sand and water stations, blocks, alphabet magnets, playdough and paint. They have a teacher and an early childhood educator in the class. I am so excited for her to go. She is too, we went to a welcome to school day and she got to do yoga, have a fruit snack and make a sparkly crown. Now she can’t wait to start school. I’m hoping this gives her the best start in life and I hope other parents realize that it’s okay to relax and let them be kids when they’re kids.

  195. Kareem Kenney

    This is a wonderful eye opener to what is truly important. Thank you.

  196. Pingback: 5 articles all mums should read today. | Louisa Claire

  197. Valerie

    This is just what I needed, a true God-send! I’ve been freaking out because my son, can’t spell his name all the way, forgets his numbers…. I’ve been overlooking the fact that he is the light of my life, he’s brilliant, loves to run, play and laugh!! Thank you so much!!

  198. Bri

    Just wanted you to know that I recently came across this post and was BLOWN AWAY with delight! It actually inspired a post of my own and I wanted you to know that I linked back to you. Thanks for this beautiful inspiration and helpful list! http://www.blog.modmemento.com/2012/09/my-lesson-in-early-childhood-education.html

  199. Love this! Thanks so much for the reminder :)

  200. Rebecca jackson.

    Fabulous insight to what’s important for our 4 year old, many thanks for sharing.

  201. sarah

    Wow, I am left speechless. I googled “my four year old can’t write own name” after other kinder mums saying their child could. All day I have been worried and thinking why hadn’t I started teaching him that. So very glad I clicked on this article. My fears have been eased and i am so greatful!

  202. As a dad thinking about homeschooling – i think you just help me decide to.

  203. joe

    as a daddy who spends all his time with his daughter i was getting worried that a first down was my important than 2+2 your article almost had me crying lol youve answered alot of question i had ty

  204. brought tears to my eyes! sharing it <3

  205. Pingback: Preschool – Pre K – | Curious Georgi

  206. Mark

    26 year old guy reading this, in a long-term relationship with a girl who has a 4 year old daughter so I read info on this from time to time.

    Probably the 3rd time in my life I teared up from something other than pain while reading this.

    I spend a lot of time on the internet and this is the only article with this many responses and not a single one is negative.

  207. Sugee

    Recently , I have given up my job, to be a stay home mom and raise my 4 year old and 6 year old . Thank you for your words of wisdom that , I know for sure without any shadow of doubt that I have made the most valuable decision in my children’s life . I have posted it in my Facebook

  208. You are brilliant. Thank you so much for being a voice in the wilderness! So glad I found this blog. My children are grown, but I work as a children’s librarian in a public library and deal with these kinds of questions all of the time. I will share your wonderful blog with them!

  209. Ravi

    The first time I read this article a few years ago, I didn’t have any kids yet. My wide was pregnant and due in a few months.

    I saved a link to it and have just read it again, had my wife read it and it has instantly changed our perspective, even if only slightly, on what we do with our TWO kids !

    Funny how out priorities and our “ways” can get completely mixed up without realizing it. Occasionally, it’s important to take a step back, pause for a minute, observe and think.

    Hopefully reading this article every so often will help us “see” better.

    I know it’s helped this time !

  210. Mary

    One sensible article I read in a long while! Thank you for writing it.

  211. amber

    That was beautiful. Thank you.

  212. Rima

    This is beautiful, I’m so glad i’ve come across it. I’m going to print it and place it somewhere I can see it everyday. Thank you.

  213. Reblogged this on Life Takes Over and commented:
    As the new school year approaches, here’s what your kids, should know…

  214. Kymm

    Most incredible article I have ever read!!! Thank you!!

  215. You’re so right! I’m really sick of this ridiculous and unhelpful competition amongst parents and the constant pressure to be ‘perfect.’ I would add to your list that sometimes children need to know that their parents can make mistakes and that they’re constantly learning too!
    Thank you xx

  216. Sherrie Smith

    Superb article. I agree 100 %. Sincere quality time spent with our children on a daily basis is a true blessing and key to happiness for all!!!!

  217. Wow! How fantastic! As the mother of an almost-one-year-old I have to remind myself almost daily not to be competitive with all the other moms out there! My little one will get there, or he won’t, and my greatest desire for him is to know he is absolutely, unconditionally, and irrevocably loved! This is really inspirational! Hope you don’t mind if I link to it!

  218. Liz Thatcher

    I am a retired kdg. teacher, and I sure wish I had this article to give parents when I was teaching!

  219. Beautifully said, and I agree with every word. Too bad the powers that be in the state of CT are not on the same page.

  220. Charles

    This is a pretty sappy piece and it scares me. It’s written to flatter what soft-head Americans and especially soft-head American moms so-so-so want to believe about themselves but not only it is untrue, it’s damaging.

    First, get off the flattery that Americans live in a “competitive culture.” Americans are hardly competitive, and that’s compared to moderates like Europeans who believe in education. FORGET comparisons with truly competitive cultures such as Asians who fight to place their kids self-esteem and intellectual development before sports or other things that really don’t matter. In America, intellectual development is to Americans as a fish is to a bicycle.

    Second, while it’s true that “Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice” it’s NOT true that most people, especially moms, are going to follow this advice. Most will nod sagely, weakly, that this is true – as they go on weakly buying toys and scheduling activities, but no clue how to fix their lives. Remember “The Flock” in Jonathan Livingstone Seagull? You are The Flock.

    The point – quit lying to yourselves. Get off your half-of-all-americans-are-obese butt and actually DO something about it, instead of just READING about it wistfully and making some vague silent promise “someday.”

  221. I am 54. I need these things too. Very much.

  222. Reblogged this on living simply running wildly and commented:
    I LOVE THIS POST!! Reminded me just in time. Magic is what is important :)

  223. Kathleen Williams

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I am starting my 36th year as a Kindergarten teacher and if children came to me with these wonderful skills and opportunities my job would be simple. I recently saw a poster that said, “Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write, and count. Childhood is a small window of time to learn and develop at a pace that is right for each individual child.”

  224. randallnichols

    Reblogged this on Concentricity and commented:
    Kids are magical if we let them be.

  225. Reblogged this on Restless Hands and commented:
    This really resonates with my philosophy of care for all children.

  226. Thank you for this. I teach at a Primary Learning Center (Head Start through 2nd grade. It breaks my heart every time some new mandate comes down from the Powers that Be that have nothing to do with actual learning and everything to do with filling in the right bubble. What you wrote about-TRUE learning.

  227. My kids had the advantage of growing up pretty poor. We couldn’t afford TV, but the library was free. I read to them ALL THE TIME! We couldn’t afford all the fancy dance classes and lessons back then! They STILL love to read and they are 24 and 26. Mud pies, caves, and picking dandelions, filling water balloons and riding bikes, and there was ME, always with them, and answering a MILLION questions! I always felt that they learned by living, and their natural curiosity was piqued by reading stories. Everything is an opportunity to learn, if you are captivated by the living! Nature parks, hikes, picnics, fishing trips, camping, cooking, sewing, painting- these are all the important activities anyone ever needs. No, my kids could never afford skiing, or horseback riding, or gymnastic classes, but we all went out and played in the snow, built snowmen together, and learned somersaults and cartwheels and backbends in the backyard. Life was good then. By the way, they both learned to read before the age of 4, and I know it just happened because they needed to know what those words said! I believe it was just spending a lot of time with me.

    • jean pryor

      lovely attitude, and it continues with the next generation, all the “fun” games we played, board games, skipping, long walks talking all the while….these are the things mine remember from their childhood and are doing it now with their own children, who incidentally are clever, confident, capable (for their age) children xx

  228. Pingback: What a Four Year Old Needs to Know | Regarding Parents

  229. Sabreen

    Excellent post. As a budding child therapist, parental love and support trumps all regardless of academic skills. It is equally as important to learn how to be loving, respectful, kind and considerate and that is something that parents are best at modeling. Furthermore, we have too much emphasis on age. We begin age at the day someone is born, but conception dates aren’t always 100% accurate and not everyone is born perfectly full term. If a fetus is born at 7 months of pregnancy, his age starts before the child who was born full term but conceived at the same time making him “older” which simply isn’t accurate. We can’t focus on age. Instead, we should focus on letting the child move at their own pace and soak up as much as they can for their own capabilities….and they should be having fun while doing it.

  230. Excellent post, a must read to all parents.

  231. AC

    Be proud of the wonderful little person that you wave goodbye to on their first school day, make sure those tears are full of happiness and joy for the amazing little person that you have brought into the word. Each one shapes the lives of another. Working part time in foundation class, we see this every day and every day we hear something spoken from your children that makes us happy to be there! It isn’t what academic ability they have reached, it is the person that they have become. Thank you :)

  232. jean pryor

    Thank you, mums and dads that put their children into “competitive” mode all the time drive me nuts, children always feeling they can NEVER do anything well enough because they haven’t reached an expected stage in their academic life, each one has the ability to shine at ANYTHING given patience, opportunity and most importantly at their own pace,” all in it’s own time” as my grandmother would tell me, they need encouragement to be the best they can be, and for some that will be amazing achievements and for some it will take longer, there are people in my life who didn’t “achieve” until they left school, others that did well in school and have no direction, enjoy the time of childhood knowing that love, support and understanding is the foundation to do well not only academically but in LIFE, good luck to all 4yr olds, come to think of it…any age your child may be, just support and encourage them <3 xx

  233. This is just so brilliant & I’m delighted to share it far & wide again a few years after you wrote it.

  234. Pingback: Benign Neglect: A Case Against Preschool | Okayest Mom

  235. Marie Arntzen

    Thank you for such sensible grass roots advice for parents.

  236. As a Grandma I read this article and felt heartened by it..
    Too many children these days are pressured into having to do well at everything that the most important thing is lost Freedom And your time which is the best thing to give them encourage them yes but not to put too much pressure on them they will have enough of that when they get older so let them have their childhood.

  237. Pingback: What should a 4-year old know?

  238. Inspire Learning

    Thank you magical childhood! I have shared this wonderful post on my fb page ‘inspire learning’! Even as a passionate play-based early childhood educator it’s good to be reminded of this ever so often! :)

  239. Jennifer P.

    I am the primary daytime caregiver for my two year old nephew and this kind of crap is already hitting my sister on a daily basis. We’re having trouble with potty training, and she knows a woman at work who goes on and on about how our little boy is so far behind because her one year old is already talking and asking for the potty. It’s disheartening because, even though you have a sweet and affectionate child who is CLEARLY very intelligent, you question your parenting skills because he’s not using the toilet yet. I cannot even imagine how much worse it will get as he turns three and four and five.

    Thank you so much for this. It makes me realize that we’re doing just fine.

  240. Great article, though I have to admit that I still couldn’t help checking out the skill list. Luckily, with skills like “understands day and night” and “is able to run” on the list, I can’t help but feel that I’m way ahead of the curve.

  241. Nadira

    Should I teach at 4 good/bad touch? Tell an adult if someone is being inappropriate with her?

  242. Anita

    Fantastic article, but I beg to differ about this bit:- “…the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children”. We rarely read to our son and yet, when he started school, he was identified as ‘gifted’ and had read all his year’s book before he finished Reception (Foundation stage). Nature and nurture… ;-)

  243. Pingback: Terrible Tuesday: AUGH « Oddly Said

  244. I get very worried and worked up before school starts. My oldest boy started kindergarden last yr and their father and great-grandmother told me to calm down and he would be fine. He is very smart and knows how to act in school.
    This year my other son starts kindergarden and I’m feeling the same way again. He definitely fit right in with #4 in the second section. He talks a lot, like me, and he is the total opposite of his brother. For his testing I was told he needed to do a lot of practicing in quite a few categories so now I’m very flustered and trying to make him do things over and over.
    Reading this made me feel a lot better and settled my nerves. Chidren do grow at their own pace and all learn differently and I know that, I just want him to do well.

  245. Jnack

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you!

  246. Pingback: lovely article :-)

  247. What I knew at age 4:
    – That I wanted to be Cindel someday and live with Ewoks
    – That Spirograph was the most fun toy ever and my parents were cruel for keeping it on a shelf we couldn’t reach, and our babysitter who always brought us stickers (awesome ones too! the fuzzy, holographic or scented kinds ) was the coolest person in the world for getting it down for us to play with whenever she babysat us
    – That if your dog is big enough and nice enough, and you are small enough, you can ride around on it like a pony. But only until Mom discovered you and yelled at you to get off
    – That Duffy Duck’s “Duck Dodgers” character had something to do with the boring Buck Rogers re-runs that my dad liked to watch on TV, but only one of those two were actually fun to watch
    – That you can trust a gelfling, but never trust a skeksis
    – and, ehrmagerd BUBBLES. And BALLOONS. <3 and RAINBOWS, too.

  248. I absolutely love this. You’ve touched on so many things that my husband and I value. We live in an age where people value bragging rights and accomplishments more than time with their own families. Thanks for sharing.

  249. Menna

    Thank you for this post. A much needed reminder of what matter. Childhood indeed is not a race.

    What you said in 4. is so true. I recently moved and haven’t unpacked two of my daughters toy boxes – she hasn’t missed them at all, because the one I did unpack contained her books, art supplies and musical instruments – all the plastic rubbish has gone unnoticed!

  250. aww your kid can recite the the alphabet forwards and backwards.. thats.. useful? my kid can turn into a robot and fly

  251. Susan Rogers

    I am blessed with twins born 1 minute apart. It is very clear for me to seea developmental difference in my boys. I recently too them to a speech therapist aa the youngest was struggling with some sounds. The outcome was he is on track for his age (3), yet the eldest has the skills of a 6 year old. Same parents: same up bringing: go figure!

  252. Carys

    I’m a mum to a 5 year old boy an 10 month old girl. I’m also a primary school teacher, and have specialised in under 7s. I know that my son should make more of an effort at school, that his handwriting is appalling and that he needs to pay more attention in class. However, he’s happy, has lots of friends, he plays well and shares equally. He gets invited to play with friends and is always at a birthday party. They’re the important things. He reads and writes well, and he has an immense vocabulary, which we see an hear while he role plays. School is a good place to learn, but there are far more important things in life than academia.

  253. Joanne Toal

    Fantastic piece on what a 4 year old know. I’m guilty of believing that if my now 5 year old son knows this and that, his life will be more fulfilled. I worry he will struggle so to ‘save’ him that, I get the phonics out etc when I should be getting the mud pies out and I’m the first to admit it. Enjoyed reading this, makes you think. Xx

  254. Yvettey

    Absolutely. Thats why my husband and I chose the stay at home mum role for me. Did my best to make sure that my son knew as many of those things as possible and hopefully more. I hated the competitive attitude of ‘look how clever my kid is’ (even when I had it!).
    I would add to the list that kids should know mum, dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins too.
    I would also suggest that it is a suitable list for ALL ages of children right through high school years and into university if your child requires it…

  255. Jeniene

    Brilliant. Every new mum should read this. Brought a tear to my eye too.

  256. This is awesome…regardless of the age of our children!!

  257. Edmondi

    I agree with the sentiment and the fact that is probably very harmful to your children to competitively compare them to other children. But I also think learning stuff can be great fun, for parent and child. I spent two hours yesterday pretending to travel to all the different ‘planets’ with my daughter, and imagining which animals lived on them when we looked out the window after we had ‘landed’. Being a loving parent and helping them pick up knowledge are not mutually exclusive.

    My other point is a complaint about phraseology and logic in the article. A child that ‘could care less’ about something presumably cares about it at least some amount, which would make it logically redundant. I assume the author meant to say ‘couldn’t care less’ which means the little boy cares about the subject not at all.

  258. Pingback: The Big Truth of What Kids Need to Know (at any age, really!) | CRS Faculty and Staff Summer Reads

  259. Alan Lee UK

    Thank you for this. I will pass this on to my sisters, both mothers.

  260. Rebecca

    In my role as an Early years practitioner and as a parent of a reception age child I couldn’t agree more!

  261. Pingback: Back to School! | Granite Homes

  262. Christine

    I love the lists! Especially #2 on what parents need to know. My kids are grown now, 19 and 22. I read to both of them from the day they were born-every night at bedtime and very frequently during the day. They were both reading by the time they were four. I would have parents of their classmates ask me what my secret was, I would answer- It’s not a secret, I just read to them every day! Eventually they started reading to me!
    I didn’t read to them with the goal of them learning to read, I just love to read and wanted to share that love with my children.

    I remember when my son was about two, we had been reading a lot of Dr Seuss books.
    One morning he woke me up, holding a block and announcing “Mommy, this is a J!” It was like all of a sudden he realized the letters were in other places besides Dr Seuss’s ABC’s and 1,2,3’s. So I got up and we looked at all the blocks, and he knew every letter. I was so proud of him, and twenty years later I still am!
    It makes me sad to see parents plop their kids in front of a computer or TV instead of spending time reading or playing games with them. We played a lot of games like Hi Ho Cherry O, Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly Jr, and they didn’t realize they were learning while playing.

    I hope nobody takes this post as a brag, because that’s not my intent. I only have a high school education, and my kids did not grow up to be geniuses. They did very well in school, and both are in college now. Both of them are still avid readers.

    I just wish parents would realize that reading is the groundwork towards a good education, and most importantly it is a great bonding time with your children. In the blink of an eye they are too big to cuddle on your lap and visit imaginary places and make new friends. With the bonus of learning to read :)

  263. Reblogged this on Becca's Cottage and commented:
    YES!

  264. Thank you for this lovely article. Society wants our kids to grow up so fast, and expects them to learn so much in such a short period of time. I say let them be kids, and if they learn along the way (which they will anyway), then that is a great life. Love them. Let them be creative and expressive. Let them play.
    I love this! Thank you.

  265. Susan

    What a sense of relief that my child n partner are doing the same wonderful things you mentioned with their child. It is priceless to observe them n contribute. ;-).

  266. Greetings from Nairobi. Love this! Thank you for sharing. Not only for parents but for kids themselves AND teachers. Sharing on the Nairobi Waldorf School Facebook page now! Take care. Caroline

  267. Kate

    I really like the sentiment of this though I’m confused what you mean when you say “musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones)”. Could you clarify?

    • Sorry, it’s worded in a confusing way. I meant that kids should use musical instruments that are real (as opposed to plastic or electronic toys) and multicultural (from all over the world). I realize now that it could read as either/or and that was not the intent! :)

  268. This is a beautiful article – I love it. I feel much better now about how much my kids know :-)

  269. Pingback: http://magicalchildhood.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/what-should-a-4-year-old-know/ | Fiddlehouse Dad

  270. Reblogged this on Fiddlehouse Dad and commented:
    Great stuff to remember at the beginning of the school year.

  271. The first thing on the list she/he should know is they are created in the image and likeness of a loving God who watches over and cares for them.

  272. Aimee

    There were literally tears streaming down my face as I read this. Thank you for taking the time to put your thoughts into words. This was a real eye opener. Don’t get me wrong, I actually spend every moment of my day with my 2 year old son, (since the moment we came home from the hospital), BUT I find myself comparing him to other kids his age, and freaking out if they know something he doesn’t. I feel a hint of failure when his friend sings her ABCs, and he is clueless…at the same time I feel as though I have bragging rights when he tells me what sport is playing on tv (he knows them all!) or when he can point out animals and foods…or when he would use his 30+ signs (sign language) as an infant…most of which has now been replaced with words and sentences. lol. But after reading your article, I couldn’t agree more with what you said. So again, I thank you! (If only I could have come across this a year ago, lol)

  273. Cyndi Williams

    I absolutely LOVE this whole article!! THANK YOU!

  274. Andrea Di Salvo

    Wow, I almost cried, it was such a relief to read this. I’ve been telling myself these things through all of my five years as a parent, but it’s so easy to look at my five-year-old, who definitely has her own ideas about what she wants to learn, and compare her to her friends who might be able to write their names, count higher, name all the books of the Bible, whatever. Plus, we homeschool, so it feels like the pressure is even higher to be better and and brighter, since most people already think we’re nuts. Thanks so much for putting it in perspective.

  275. Pingback: In Comparison… | A TITillating Tale

  276. Walter Sugden

    I seem to recall that Albert Einstein did not speak a word before the age of five. Enjoy your children when you can, they will only be 3 or 4 or 5 ONCE but don’t let them burn the house down. Thanks for the insights

    Father of three (5,7,9)

    • wouldn't have a clue solo father of 2

      Yeah my oldest boy didn’t start talking till a couple of weeks before his 5th birthday. Pretty much everyone said he should be talking. I just thought he didn’t feel like it. Which turned out true. Hasn’t stopped talking since

  277. I am a teacher of 6, 7 and 8 year olds – really loving number one on the list! What a difference just this one would make to a lot of young learners!

  278. Alicia

    It’s a lovely sentiment clearly written by the mom of typically developing children. This could all apply to my younger so. If I’d read it looking for answered for my older son and allowed it to sete into relaxing I would have done him a great disservice. Some children really do need to be compared to the lists and given more than reading time, craft supplies and the freedom to explore them.

    This post seems to assume all children will get there when they get there and that couldn’t be farther from the truth for some children.

    Lovely sentiments but potentially dangerous as well. Please add the word most in when referring to children instead of making sweeping generalizations about their abilities. Some kids need more than love and reading. They need extensive interventions, not to ensure they get into Harvard but to ensure they can one day be in a mainstreamed classroom or have a friend or communicate effectively, however that happens.y concern is that a parent who is correctly concerned about their child’s development will stumble upon your post, feel guilty for expecting “so much”
    Of their kids and take your advice to relax and let things happen organically. Children with some developmental delays don’t look different bit they do learn differently.

    My son has autism. It wasn’t glaringly obvious like it is for some kiddos but he was not capable of learning all that he needed (and I do mean needed, not talking about naming planets or counting to a thousand so he can make me proud. I agree with your sentiments on this for typical kids) without extensive therapy. Had I read this beautifully written guilt trip prior to seeking a diagnosis I may very well have waited longer coating my child critical early intervention time. Please consider being clear that NOT ALL children learn the same and sometimes that means that a child can need some extra help. If a parent is even remotely concerned about their child’s development they should have them evaluated by professionals and their school district.

    Thanks

    • Wendy

      I know life is different for some children and yes they do need that extra help. I think it is fair to speak to the mainstream and tell parents not to rob their child of childhood. I don’t think these comments are dangerous, since like yourself parents of autistic children have to work to get the help for their children and they know that. You are right to think the way you do but mainstream children’s parents requently do need to lighten up.
      I hope you are getting the support you need for yourself and your children, you clearly love them both.

  279. Jyotika

    This is really nice, specially point 5 of what parents need to know….great reminder of the fact that kids need US most.

    Mother of a toddler..soon to reach the 4 years old stage!

  280. JohnS

    It’s B.S. rhetoric like this that keeps our country low in the educational food chain! I sure hope that my or my child’s tax dollars are not wasted taking care of your seemingly future incompetent offspring whom will undoubtedly be on welfare!

  281. Pingback: WEEKLY WONDERS |

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  283. Verity Indcox

    What an amazing article. I am reception teacher and say the same things to my parents when I do my new parents evening! Let children be children and enjoy it!!!

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  285. Pingback: What a 4 year old Should Know | The Toadstool

  286. Hammad Kabir

    What a beautiful post…its good to be reassured:)

  287. Wendy

    I like this. My children are adults now and I still have great memories of the finger painting and making scones we did twenty years ago and more importantly so do the children. One of my children recently had a bit of an accident and is now in plaster because she still has the capacity to play. I might be a worried mum (aren’t we all) but I am also a proud and chuffed mum because my children are happy and getting fun out of life. Make stuff, watch sunsets, paddle in the sea and above all get your children dirty regularly that is how they learn stuff. Mile stones are artificial, just do stuff it is more interesting.

  288. What an amazing post. I suppose all of these respondents lets you know just how great it is. It’s so lovely to teach a child life skills and to have fun, the academic stuff can wait…. :)
    My oldest couldn’t write his own name until 7 (Tom), yet 3 years ago he passed all of his exams, and in 3 weeks he’s going to University… :)

  289. Thank you! I wish more people would realise this. My nearly 4 year old little boy, has been last to do everything, sometimes it worries me but most of the time I just know that he is a happy little boy who loves being read to, who has the most amazing imagination and who loves life – I’m happy with that.

  290. J's Mum

    I love this. My daughter has been in childcare from an early age i.e. under 1 this was not the situation I wanted for her but what I had to do. We chose the village nursery for her which has an excellent reputation and where they have genuine love for each child. However, they are bound by national curriculum guidelines where at 1 year old they had to comment on her ability to write and her sense of community, utterly crazy. The nursery asked me for “next steps” for her too, To this I responded that my focus was on her being loved and cared for which the nursery fuly understood. Surely there is something wrong in the UK if we have to grade children from age one! Here’s to letting children develop naturally in loving homes.

  291. Beautifully written. It’s often hard to share these sentiments while also addressing real concerns lots of parents have about their child’s learning curve.

    Truly lovely.

  292. Eastbourne Childminder's Association

    We are an association in the UK supporting local home-based Child Carer’s. Our Government is currently trying to make our pre-school children have to learn through a curriculum. The Minister in charge of the latest proposals wants children to learn more formally, sit still & listen to the Child Carer/Pre-school teacher. She visited an establishment, in France I think, where children sat in lines & spoke when spoken to & took part in organised tasks, when she visited one in the UK she said it seemed children (between 0-4 years) were “running around, doing what they wanted, with no purpose”. WITH NO PURPOSE?!! Everything a pre-schooler does has a purpose, we may not always understand that purpose but it is there! I am sending her a copy of your brilliant analogy & will probably copy to the parent’s of the children I personally care for too.

  293. Erica Corey

    This is a wonderful post and I’d love to pass it on to the parents at our preschool. I think to many loose sight of the simple fact they are in fact children not mini adults!! I know of an 8 yr old who was diagnosed with shingles I said impossible.. turns out she was so stressed she really did have shingles.

  294. Reblogged this on Planet Jam Jar Cottage and commented:
    Inspiring :)

  295. I loved this so much, thank you. Every so often, I feel like I should sign my little boy up for classes/sports etc and I’m letting him down. This reminds me that I’m not. Thank you.

  296. Pingback: It’s Okay To Be A Child! | With KAT

  297. Brilliant! In a world full of highly sensitive and spirited children, this is by far the best post I’ve seen in terms of coming back down to what REALLY MATTERS. Unicorns, 8 legged cats, hands in mud, this is the stuff that life is made of! Thank you for highlighting the truth, that all we really need in the end, is to nurture the beauty and innocence of what is already innately part of our children’s makeup, and that is LOVE.

  298. Pingback: What I’m Into August Edition | Leelee Writes

  299. Kathy Bean

    It saddens me that parents have to be told these are THE things a four year old should know.

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  301. Rachel

    I so badly want to share this with my students families… who can I contact about printing this?

  302. Suzy Shepherd

    I went to the World Book list for pre-school and I was shocked at some of what I saw. I’m old enough that when I started school there was no public kindergarten (say nothing about public pre-school!). In first grade our names were taped to our desks as a model for us to follow in writing our names on our papers because most kids didn’t yet know how to print their names. My mother who taught in the 1930’s said that she sometimes had kids who came to her who didn’t yet know their colors in first grade. What shocked me most is that one of the pre-school “skills” is asking to go to school. Where does the child in the homeschool family fit into that scenario (even my granddaughter’s mother didn’t go to school until she attended some college classes in high school). I think the list in the original article was much more appropriate. I’ve watched in recent years as first grade skills have gravitated down towards kindergarten, and increasingly towards pre-school. While some kids are ready to read early (both mine were reading at above a third grade level by 6 and 1/2, so I am familiar with precocious readers), not all kids are and what’s happening is that increasingly more kids are getting labeled as learning disabled when all that’s going on is that they are on a different developmental timetable than some other kids. We used to know that the average child learned to read at 6, but that it was perfectly normal for kids to read much earlier or much later. When we push this as an essential early skill we do great harm to the child who isn’t yet ready. It’s like pushing a 9 month old to walk with great dismay being expressed if they can’t do it. Almost certainly by the time they do learn to walk it will be tentative and fearful. I’ve watched homeschooled kids go from non-readers to reading Tolkien or Tom Clancy in a matter of months. Most of the kids who’ve been through the public school system and discouraged with years of being mislabeled are never the confident readers those late reading homeschoolers are. I believe in literacy, I believe in the importance of laying a strong foundation, but what I’ve seen is that kids who haven’t been made to feel stupid can learn a tremendous amount in a very shot period of time while kids who have been made to feel stupid have great difficulty trusting their own abilities to learn anything at all.

  303. Shelby Kohrman

    Amen! You’ve made me smile and cry throughout this entire post! You couldn’t have written a more beautiful explanation of how we should all me raising and teaching our children.

    Go with your gut! It’ll always steer you in the right direction.

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  305. Erin S.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write and re-post this!!! It has reaffirmed my choice in homeschooling my little ones since the choice was made for many of those reasons!! I want my children to have that freedom to create, explore, and grow as their needs suit them, not be measured by a standard and cut to fit into a mold. And as many ways as children can be spoiled, your love, support, and attention is not one of them.

  306. Angie

    Thank you, just thank you. Needed to hear this today!

  307. Reblogged this on To Be Honest… and commented:
    What a fabulous post! I’m so happy to have found it to reblog and share it with you! Enjoy :)

  308. Donna Exton

    Love, care & positive attention is all a child needs! T problem is parents high expectations & revalry between families to be t best. But it also falls heavily onto t governments shoulders for t amount of boxes a child/teacher has to tick to make targets!!!! TARGETS is t evil word here!!!!!!!

  309. Jeanne

    A friend sent me this link to the article. I just want to tell you I adore this and I agree with you so much. ” But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.” I read that and it is just so absolutely true. Parents are so caught up in our own worlds sometimes and we don’t spend enough time with our children. I was doing a house project and realized my daughter was spending more time with the Disney than I was with her. Ever since then we have completed the other together & numerous art crafts :) thank you again for this post.

  310. Pingback: When it all gets too much… I make bread! | Jamboree - my life - my kids

  311. Reblogged this on Cleopatra says… and commented:
    The other day I was reading an interesting post on one of my blog friend’s blog site. She was expressing some concerns about what her pre-school son should know by the time he starts school. I ‘liked’ the post, as it gave me much to think about for when my own little man is that age, but I did not comment because I have no experience or knowledge of the subject.

    Coincidentally, a few days later a friend of mine posted this amazing extract on her Facebook page from an uncredited source, and it could not be more apt, more fitting or more true. I wish I’d written it myself.
    After a quick Google search, I found out that the source is actually a WordPress blogger – how wonderful! WordPress has the best bloggers! So here you go, dive in, lap it up and go back for seconds, too…

  312. Reblogged this on Carol Writes and commented:
    A wonderful blog about what a 4 year old should know — and for the parents who teach them.

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  314. Karen eyre

    What a beautiful and truthful piece if advice. NOTHING in this world matters more to a child is the knowledge that they are truly loved

  315. Everything about this is perfect and awesome!

  316. Thank you, what a great writing! I have reblogged it. Bless you.

  317. Really loved this text (OK, I’m not the only one). I liked it so much that I tried to translate it into French while preserving the original beauty of what you wrote, and posted it on my blog, with of course a reference to your original one. Thanks.
    I hope that it’ll help other parents to realize what is important and what is not.

    • 4 days letter, your text in French has been read more than 20 000 times on my blog. I mentioned your name and blog address. People love your text and I am thanked by many of the just for translating. So I wanted to share that with you :o)

  318. K

    I understand what your article represent however, we live in a judgmental society in which success is accepted and failure is viewed as death. if one doesn’t push their child academically they set them up for being the target of bullies. How about starting with educators, school systems and parents teaching them that children do not blossom similar academically. Charity begins at home and parents should teach their children to respect others regardless of their shortcoming. Also the society should stop being so quick to drug children labeling them as having learning disability just because they are not up to their standard. Due to the fact children learn at different pace, teachers should have the patience to take time with students instead of making them feel stupid. Also teachers should stop shutting down advanced students because they feel intimidated by what they know and how much extra work they have to do to keep up with them. We should set a great example to the next generation by loving what we do and not only doing it because it brings in paycheck..

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  320. I read this translated into Spanish through facebook and my mom sent me the link to your original blog article. Thank you so much for this post! People forget that we are actually all created different and we all march to our own drum. Let the kids play, let them enjoy life. Beautiful!

  321. ashleigh fuller

    I did daycare for my oldest…but only a day per week or 2 half days…purely for the fun field trips and socialization because he is suuuuch a social lil guy. And he really is quite bright. I believe he learned what he knows because most was through play or certain shows. It wasn’t a high pressure thing.
    I mean…if a child is like SIGNIFICANTLY delayed, that might be a red flag and something to get checked out. But generally speaking, I totally agree with this article. Kindergarten is so different now…so many things for the kids to learn…makes my head spin sometimes.

  322. Thank you for this wonderful post! Best regards from Belgium.

  323. Reblogged this on Purple Momma and commented:
    I’m going to print this out and put it on the fridge. I love it.

  324. Ana

    Your article has arrived yo México City. Things hére are básically the same or maybe worse since people who can afford it here have “maids” and “nannies” who are uneducated and very poor people that are now the ones”educating” our children since we are very busy having time for ourselves, shopping to death all the brands that we desperately need to be someone… As if you don’t have a Louis Vuitton or a Gucci you are nobody…. Having trips without children since we desperately need to know exotic children free places like aruba or gambling in Vegas…. ( being ironic) … And then we send them alone camping in usa since they have to learn how to be independent… Blah ..
    Then the whole country is wondering why are we in such a bad shape as country…. Imagine those kids 20 years from now alone, educated by nannies and chauffeurs that doesn’t are as we’ll since they have to educate a rich kid for a minimum wage and as well abandon their own children to do so and have money to feed their own kids… It is pathetic.
    Hopefully sometime soon , we will understand the most important thing of all is to be with them and soon more and more people here will join the magnificent opportunity to be with their kids ….
    I love my kids more than anything in the world and I hope I am not doing a bad job, trying to be present all the time they need and “missing” adult things … Thank God since being in a kid world is incredible.
    Sorry for my bad English and congrats for your article.
    Ana
    Mexico City

  325. carrie bright

    love unconditionaly loved is what a 4 year old needs to know its ok to make mistakes try harder next time but as a mother and father what u do with ur children is what they will pick up and turn into there own everyday version of who they are we teach them numbers from right to wrong once they reach and tap into who they are we as parents are merely guides ur kids are going to be who they are and what they are so show them ur love it gos a long way

  326. Sue

    Well said! Made me well up too!
    My 2 year old happily and confidently counts to 20 – not because I’ve sat him down and taught him, but because we play hide and seek every morning before nursery and counting to 20 ‘gives mummy long enough to hide!!’

  327. APPLAUDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and yes I mean every single one of those exclamation points!)

  328. Meirav

    May I translate into Hebrew? Giving full credit & reference.
    Thx in advance.

  329. Jen

    A few years ago there was an elementary school principal praising kindergarteners for using GRAPHING CALCULATORS. Really?? :(

  330. as a stay at home mom of two boys who are now 23 & 20 I agree with this young lady and what she has said. My boys both went to preschool, not because I wanted them out of the house or because they got under foot. The oldest went because he was my social butterfly and wanted to interact with as many people as he could throughout the day. My youngest went because he was anything but a social butterfly. He saw no reason to ever leave my side. I read to my children every day. Not because I wanted them to be genius but because I loved having them sit with me and watch their expression when we read a funny story. My kids went to a 2A school. In Texas that means there were about 1000 kids in the entire school (K-12) and they didn’t take college classes in high school. They took a total of 2 AP classes. (one each). Not because I told them they had to nor because I said they couldn’t, simple because we didn’t feel the need for them too. Now with all that being said, I realize that I am blessed beyond words and that not everyone can do what I have been able to do, but my sons are at a D1, Tier 1 university both with 2.75 GPA’s because I took time to be with them, teach them what things I knew and stress to them that they needed to be the best person they could be and do the best work they could do. We stressed being Godly over being an A student, being kind to everyone, no matter who they are and to always do the best they could do in their studies. They both played sports, and they were both drummers in the school band. They were not deprived of being boys, they rode their bikes through our small town, hung out with their friends and did things with the youth group of the congregation we were members of. Let your kids be kids, but let them know what is important and they will figure the rest out. sorry, didn’t mean to get on a soap box, just hope what I said will help someone out there. Have a blessed day.

  331. AMEN!! Enjoy your little ones … don’t worry so much about expectations of them … they will surprise you what they can do … and how fast they will learn about anything …. keep the computer at a safe distance from them … Their time at that monster will come soon enough …

    Advice from a Grandmother and a Great Grandmother
    (And proud of it )

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  333. Nadia

    Thank you 😊beautiful!

  334. Michelle Jensen

    THANKS SO VERY MUCH for your words. I came across this on Facebook and I am also a homeschool mom. You inspired me to put the books down for the day and take my 3, 8 and 13 y/o children to the park to make sand castles and enjoy a gorgeous fall day. You have inspired me to be a better mother and teacher, thank you.

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  339. This is awsome I shall pass this on thankyou

  340. Jordan Batte

    Thank you so much for this. It is exactly what I needed to read today.

  341. Robert Mcfly

    I am sorry your children are mildly retarded and you make up excuses why the eat paint chips and lick windows

  342. Pingback: what should a 4 year old know! wonderful !!!!!

  343. caroline holt-casey

    This is lovely and brought tears to my eyes. As my girls are now in the 6th and 4th grades, respectively, these principles become even more necessary. They attend a beautiful Waldorf school where childhood is a top priority and learning is actually creative and fun!! What a concept. Now, if only mainstream education really listened to an article like this…what a world we’d have!!

  344. Pingback: What should a 4 year old know? | Walden School Blog

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  346. Cosmina

    Everytime I cry when I readt it!!!!

  347. isha

    So so true! I m a middle school teacher n I cmpltly agree wth ths. I m religiously takng care of it that my 8 mnth old does things his way. He sits bt ds nt turn or crawl. I dnt care. He will do it wen he feels like it. I wnt to gve him his life. Nt a life tht I hv designed.

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  356. karen

    Thanx for the info my son is four an he cant colour his teacher says his fine motor skills arent developed please give me advise on what to do he goes to gradeR next year should i leave him in play school for send him to grade R next year

    • Karen, if the only skill your child is “behind” in at age four is coloring and fine motor skills, then I do not think most teachers would recommend holding him back. You can play with him in ways that will help develop these skills. Some ways to work on fine motor skills include playing with playdough (roll it in coils, cut it with a plastic knife, mold it into shapes, etc.), cutting a variety of materials with safety scissors, stringing large beads, using tools with oversized nuts and bolts attached to a board, bending pipe cleaners into creatures and creations, doing finger knitting, and of course drawing and coloring together, among others. Even allowing him to take apart broken toys with a screwdriver will help those fine motor skills. :) That said, ask his teacher if there are any other concerns that would cause her to recommend waiting it out another year. Some kids do benefit from waiting, if there are real reasons that it would help them. Follow your heart. Mama instincts are usually pretty good!

  357. Alicia thank u for the post. I have worked with kids for 25 years as a professional soccer coach and am currently doing a Masters in Clinical Mental Health and I couldn’t agree with u more. The world is so unbalanced because of these issues with parenting. Thank u.

  358. Pingback: Inspiring Imagination » Truly Madly Mummy

  359. Donis

    Magical
    Thanks!

  360. Pingback: Learning is not a Competition | Sealdi's EDS 113 Blog

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  362. adi

    I completely agree, however, if as a parent you feel something is wrong it is smart to ask the doctor. When i was in kindergarden i had a not sent home that i can not cut with scissors. There was no information regarding learning disabilities so my mother decided it is not a big deal. Today I know that if we had the knowledge and the support then it would have saved my a struggle in higher grades…

  363. Becky Porter

    This is fantastic and amazing words , I totally agree . My four year olds happiness is the most important thing to me , sadly its teachers , other parents and health care professions that make you forgot what’s important . This should be printed and put up around schools even youth clubs . Xx

  364. Pingback: ¿Qué debe saber un niño a los 4 años? | Mama de DOS chancletas

  365. solange

    Your blog post saved me from a night of crying myself to sleep. I put my 4 year old daughter in a church program where she attends for 8 hours a week. I was told by her “teacher” that she was behind by most kids in the “class”….. Other parents taught their kids how to identify and write the alphabet already. My daughter knows how to write her name and she can even sing all the 50 states in alphabetical order but I had no idea she was expected to write the alphabet. I felt like a failure and was coming to the realization that I would not be a good homeschooling mom. I was ready to give my children to the experts because I was obviously doing a bad job. After reading your post I am confident that my daughter is fine and that maybe I can tackle the job of homeschooling all my children. Thank you.

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  367. Vivian

    Such sage advice. Loved this post. Thanks for the reminders. :)

  368. I LOVE this post. How can I share it on my Facebook wall?
    Thanks

  369. pammie

    My #1 fav. Article !!!! I printed it out & whenever parents grill me on my choice of “unschooling” my son & they start to compare other 4yr olds w. My son whom is 4. I hand them this article. ..& I tell u ppl sure don’t know to “grill” u after reading this.

  370. Thank you for reposting. My daughter is 4 1/2, this list is so timely. She loves dress up and crafts. After school, we do a “craft love”…something small like beading a necklace or dot paintings. I must admit I cannot let her paint during supper preparation…new paint and kitchen…lol. thank you :-)

  371. I love this. Going to share it on my FB page.
    And im also going to make mud pies with my 4yp and 1.5yo tomorrow thankyou :-)

  372. Cynthia

    I’m glad I found this! I’m watching my four year old little sister weekdays for most of the day while our parents* are at work. I’ve always been worried with what to teach her. I’m very much relieved :)

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  374. momE

    Beautifully put. I am teary eyed right now thinking of how hard we are on kids for no reason. I recall how worried I was when I didn’t think my son was “keeping up”. How I wish I had this blog to read all those years ago! Thanks for writing this.

  375. Amber

    Wonderful article and so true. Thank you for sharing.

  376. This is a great post and I am so glad that I found it. Such simple advice that we often forget in our busy lives. Thank you for sharing! This is very timely as my daughter is about to turn 4.

  377. Patricia Huegi

    Great read. So true, I was a public school teacher when I had my daughter almost 8 years ago. I decided to stay home to play with my daughter. My family was horrified and to this day, I still occasionally question whether I did the right thing. Clearly, I did.

    I have been reading with my daughter several times a day since the day she was born. She is a little book worm now. She is an incredible reader because she loves reading. And oh the knowledge that she gets from reading. I am so amazed. Leaps and bounds ahead of kids that were shipped off to day care, then pre-school, then traditional school. I did not intend for this to happen by the way. I just followed my motherly instincts to stay home with my child. I am now totally convinced that it’s what they need to feel confident, worthy, secure, and happy, hence…they will most likely be successful academically. Children need unconditional, all day every day love from their families. And, yes, they need to play…a lot.

    Thank you for publishing this article!

  378. MrsBeenThere

    I love this list and agree whole-heartedly! But, unfortunately, one thing that needs to be realized…..if you have a child going into kindergarten and they do not know how to count to 10 or 20, know all of the ABC’s and their sounds ….that child will be behind the rest of the class and will be labeled with an ISP and as having some kind of learning disorder. That can cause unnecessary harm in a child that young! Its a sad fact.

  379. DB

    Just because a parent wants their child to be smart and wants them to reach their full potential doesn’t mean they are trying to make other parents feel bad about what their children can or can not do. It also doesn’t mean that they aren’t adored and loved constantly. I hated school and struggled because my mother didn’t teach me or push me as a child. I wish she would have done more. That doesn’t make her a bad parent, but there is nothing wrong with doing the most we can for our children to allow them to succeed and become whatever they want to be in life. It makes no sense to me when others get upset or jealous when a parent brags about their child. That is ludicrous. They should be happy for those parents instead of being jealous. I don’t get it!

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  381. Sara

    What a wonderful post!
    I feel compelled all the time to thank my son for allowing me into his world. I’m so glad to read this post and that you feel that kids need us, not substitutes for us. I agree too that the “ten minutes a day and a Saturday once a month” is just abysmal. All our technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but it seems to isolate us more. I always feel like if I were wealthy enough to hire a nanny, I’d hire a house keeper instead because I’d want to spend my time seeing my kids explore, not being resentful that a nanny gets their joys and challenges.

    I do have a question for you, as an educated mom and home-schooler:
    My son is almost three. I feel blessed to have been able to be home with him since day 1; I work a random schedule and on some weekends. Hubby works Tuesday-Friday, 10 hour days. We tried a co-op preschool when he was 18 months old or so, which he seemed to enjoy for a little while, until the class size blossomed from 12 to 22 kids and then it was totally chaotic. I didn’t enjoy it and he was very anxious there as well. He also got sick often enough that I felt it was a waste of money.

    The trouble is, my son seems to have a preoccupation with other kids being bullies. Everyone is a bully.. He seems interested in them from afar but then says they’ll hit him or he’ll hit them (he’s never hit a kid or been hit by anyone). On the playground he avoids other kids. If he’s in a situation where he is around lots of kids who are playing with a collection of community toys, he often winds up handing over a toy he’s playing with to a kid who just comes near him, not even grabbing or wanting the toy. They take it, of course, because hey, free toy!!
    I’m just wondering if I should try to ease him back into a class or group environment? I try to encourage him without pushing him away from me, using language that honors that he can decide when he’s ready to play with other kids (which it seems like he’d like that to be never). He has one little friend who we haven’t seen in awhile because he says she shouldn’t come over etc. I know I should just invite her back and I will, but what could be his reason for being so worried about other kids?
    Playgrounds aren’t fun for him, it seems. He wants me to come up on the equipment with him, even I say I’ll catch him when he comes down the slide etc. I get such looks from other parents because I think they think I’m somehow encouraging him to be so attached and fearful.

    Even if it’s just one kid, I’d love for him to have a little friend.
    Any advice??

    • Hi Sara. It’s hard to know what’s going on without knowing your son, but here are some thoughts I had.

      For one thing, I don’t know how long this behavior has been happening, but little ones do sometimes just go through phases and if we are patient and keep pointing them in the right direction they work through them. It is possible that something happened at preschool that he needs to work through or even that he saw something or encountered something in a book that instilled a little worry. Children can work through their fears through play so you could try play-acting with him with some dolls or stuffed animals at home (“Lion wants to play with Sheep, what should he do…” “Hi Woody, can I be your friend?” and such) and let him role play all different parts. Let him respond however he likes without correction (even if he role plays bullying or aggression with the toys, as this can be a safe way for him to get into what’s bothering him), but play your parts in the ways you’d want to teach him (“Hey, don’t hit me, that hurts!” … “Please give me back my toy”… “Hi, I’m Sam, do you want to play?”). This is an easy way to give him social tools for lots of situations, and it also lets him work through his worries in a safe way. (I also have some simple tools on helping children learn how to make friends here: http://www.examiner.com/article/teaching-your-child-how-to-make-friends.)

      I would also keep seeking out some social opportunities for him, but perhaps on a smaller scale. Go to park days or the library when there are other little ones, and look to see if there are any neat opportunities in your community like ECFE (early child and family education, provided by many school districts before school age for families to come to play and learn together one evening a week) or community ed toddler gymnastics or music lessons, that sort of thing. You could also look to see if your city has any type of attachment parenting playgroup (a lot are on Facebook for the city and county, and meet regularly in person). I have found some of my favorite parenting friends through AP connections over the years, and the kids tend to be very accepting themselves from a young age.

      It’s also perfectly normal for two and three year-olds to prefer the company of mom or dad best. You’re probably a pretty fun playmate and a lot better at sharing than his peers. ;) Some kids are more sociable than others, and he may naturally be more of an introvert. This is different from wanting to make friends and being afraid, of course. Time will tell a lot more about what his social preferences are, and how to best help him meet his needs.

      Since he is just two, I would give him a lot of time to work through this. Keep being the mother he needs, and have faith that he’ll grow through this phase with your patience, time and some good role modeling from others. If other mothers give you the skunk eye, they probably aren’t the type of people who’d be your favorite friends or the parents of the best playmates for him anyway. You’ll eventually come across some kids and some mothers who will “get” you both, and those will be the authentic friends you’ll both treasure. :)

  382. Lisa Bennett

    Hi there, that was a lovely article and a nice reality check. I home school too. My children are eight, seven and fifteen months. We are in South Africa. Because we don’t yet use a curriculum, I actually have no idea where they ‘should’ be and would be very interested to have a look at the lists you mentioned in the article.

    Thanks and warm wishes
    Lisa

  383. I have 3 grandchildren who love to play make believe dress up explore swing.on swings run make up plays to act do crafts and read
    When I had my then.three year old granddaughter overnight our tradition was to read with flashlights..I was so awed to see her make up stories from the pictures and she reads to her younger sister. They are so well rounded and tech savvy however all of us grandparents and their parents want them to be children. at each age

  384. Amy

    Brilliant And Beautiful!

  385. Scott Johnson

    Can you share with me your source for the statement ” The most important thing you can do……. is read to your children”. I have to believe this to be true but have never seen scientific proof supporting this. Books in homes yes.

    • Google scholar search “reading, young children”, or “early literacy.” You should come up with dozens of articles. You can also look at the research supporting head start.

  386. Love this post. Bloody brilliant and I have shared it!! Thank you!!!!

  387. What an amazing reminder of parent I aim to become in this materialistic world. Clapping hands to a writer, resend it please ecery school year as a hymn for us to read please.

  388. tammy clark

    As a kindergarten teacher i believe this is a fantastic article all parents should read.

  389. L Thompson

    I was feeling very down since my 4 year son was not speaking clearly. He has tremendous potential. We love and he will dearly. The world is so materialistic and so achievement oriented that we forget about simplicity of life and our children.

  390. Lynda

    My four year old can’t write his numbers

  391. Can I have your permission to reblog this. It’s what I always preach but we mothers never listen!

  392. Pingback: What Should a 4 Year Old Know? | Anchor with Keidi

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  394. Leslie

    Thank You! I have a 3.5yo and have been wondering if he learning at the right pace and reaching all his milestones.

  395. Reblogged this on The Treasure Trove and commented:
    This is one of the best posts I’ve read yet about what a child needs to know. Make me want to be one again, enveloped in all that knowledge!

  396. Reblogged this on janine.kredell and commented:
    I love this- and would like to add for ‘academic achievement’ the number one predicator is if the parent went to college.

  397. Katie

    Thank you so much for this post!

  398. Reblogged this on ~ Perpetually PINK ~ and commented:
    I have a five year old and I must say…there is nothing more important in my day than spending quality time with her. In today’s time we spend too much time with our computers, cell phones, and video games than our children. We only have them for a moment in time….we blink our eyes and they are grown. Don’t miss it. AND don’t encourage them to get so wrapped up in the electronics either by allowing the video games, movies and tablets to babysit! I love listening to my five year old play house, school and chef with her Barbie dolls. Her imagination is precious to me! I am reblogging A Magical Childhood’s blog entitled What should a 4 Year Old Know? Take time to read it. Then take time to change some things in your family….and act like a family by purposefully spending time with each other. Ohana!….means family…..and family means no one gets left behind (Lilo and Stitch).

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  400. Sharon

    Absolutely wonderful. Perfect. So well written and so true. This has really touched me and is definitely how I feel too.

  401. Pingback: Weekend Reading: August 24, 2013

  402. Pingback: What should a 4 year old know | kerensa leigh » kerensaleigh.com

  403. Tina Kraja

    Amazing. I felt such love and pride when I read this as I think exactly like this. My girls have mud baths and read all the time. Yes they see Tv but barely actually sit and watch it. My daighter could open a craft shop with all the things she has to entertain her playdough and glitters and cotton wool for scarf making. Its fun. Its messy and we have a ball usually. I do fret about mess…but I also say the hour of fun they have is well worth the 5 minutes of cleaning after. Good job and very well written. With so much passion. X

  404. Pingback: Preschool Homeschool | Absolute PandeMOMium

  405. Pingback: Back to school time … Childhood shouldn’t be a race. | Buddha's Secret

  406. Jennefer Eldert

    This sounds like my mother wrote this!! She raised 5 children single handed; no “welfare” as there wasn’t any then; only HARD WORK, which taught us how to work!! She did laundry; canned on the shares (?) know what that is?? We piled weeds in someone else’s garden; picked tomatoes, free beans, berries, many other items; then canned; we got to keep less than half; the owner would get the rest! She was one Great teacher!! She graduated from Blackburn Collage, Normal, IL in the ’30; after graduation there were no jobs! Thank you!

  407. Clinton

    I understand the sentiment here and agree that learning takes place through interaction with your environment. However, children learn at their own pace with in reason and it is very important to recognize that their are in fact things that your child should “know” at certain ages. A four year old should know the basics of interactive, socially acceptable, communication with others. A child should be walking around 1. Yes, a child who is having trouble speaking at 2 might be fine, but they may also have a developmental delay. The longer it takes for children to get services they need the worse the outcomes. Those outcomes can have an effect on the child’s happiness. I can’t tell you how many parents have told me they thought their kids would “grow” out of it. Hell, I’m 34 and still waiting for that to happen.

  408. Well said Momma. I worry sometimes that my own children are behind in some things, but then I realize they are magically gifted in others. I loved this article to bits.

  409. Chia Miau King

    Love!

  410. I love your article!!! I have taught kindergarten, preschool, 2-3 years, and infants in daycare for 13 years. I have told parents this same type of information in parent teacher conferences so many times. Most of what you listed is what I added to my “evaluation” when I talked to parents about their child.

  411. Pingback: My Blissfully Happy, Unprepared Kindergarteners! | ...somewhere between the stitches...

  412. stacie

    I’m sitting here crying after reading this. My son just started pre school at 3 with iep for several things and I worry so much. But after reading this I realize he already knows what he needs to know right now because my husband and I do all those things for him and more!!!

  413. present

    loving a child should be normal part of growing up and not on any special list – unfortunately that we as a society need to be reminded of
    I agree that child needs to be a child and by no means a trophy, but a laissez-faire attitude towards child development opens doors for under and non helped children who suffer from learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders etc
    later on they get picked on, bullied and really NOT helped by their parents who were living in a “will catch-up” bubble
    as a parent it is YOUR responsibility to have a keen eye on how and where is your child on his developmental journey!!!!

  414. Alissa

    Our wonderful kindergarten teacher has a little speech that he gives to kids and parents when they come for the kindergarten social each spring (a few months before they will start at the school). He saysL
    “Parents, here’s what your kids need in order to be ready for kindergarten:
    – They need to know they are loved.
    – They need to be well rested and well fed.
    – They need to know that they come to school to learn.
    If you can take care of those three things, we will take care of the rest.”

  415. Reblogged this on learninglifejoy and commented:
    I LOVE this post. I have said the same things, probably not so eloquently. Childhood is not a race. Give children grace, love and the freedom to adventure. They will learn many more life skills and be much happier if we do.

  416. Ed U. Cator

    Arne Duncan needs to be reminded if this! If all parents practiced “their” list he would realize what is needed for ALL children to thrive and succeed…..not only on his all important tests, but in life! It is not our schools that are broken, nor our teachers, nor our children. In fact the teachers that make lasting impressions are the ones who recognize everything on both lists and realize their importance in a child’s life…… and focus accordingly. They realize and know that when those needs are met true learning can take place. I thank God that my teachers did not have CommonCore jammed down their throats!

    This post is dedicated to all of today’s present teachers, and all of the teachers I’ve had throughout my life, that realize(d) true education is NOT A business, but it is the business of humanity.

  417. Linda Mc ginnis

    I have been “fighting this fight” for forty two years. Great post for all the people who are child advocates. Wish we could have everyone read this!!

  418. Lynn

    What a marvelous and utterly true article. I began to read to my children while they were in utero. As they grew up, we enjoyed the sweet, close times we read together. Age does not matter: when I taught at-risk eight graders, ages varying between 12 to 17 years, my students loved the portion of class time every day in which I read aloud to them. What a joy! My daughter is now home schooling her two children and I am immensely proud of her and thankful for her choice to spend her time with her children. Please love your children, mommies, and give them yourselves and your time. It is a cliche, but true, that they grow up so fast. Every child is gifted – they just open their gifts at different times.

  419. Reblogged this on Authentic Motherhood and commented:
    I found this post so uplifting and positive. In a sea of comparisons and testing and worrying about our jobs as parents and our child’s skill set, this was a breath of fresh air.

  420. Kimberly

    WOW!! As a primary school teacher and not a mother yet, this made my spine tingle and it also made me think about my childhood,growing up was all of these things and now I am passing my knowledge onto future generations. It is wonderful to see an amazing report/story etc about something so obvious to some, but less to others. I will endeavour to ensure those things for my children in my care and as well my own when I am blessed.

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  422. carolyn

    You are awesome. This blog is awesome. My head is sync’d up to your’s basically, and that’s the only way I could put it. I taught my daughter to read 10 years ago when she was 4. My sons are 3 and 4. My 4 year old has no interest in writing his name, but he knows a lamb is a baby sheep and what a herbivore eats. He can name several dinosaurs. He can’t count perfectly but somehow does know the outcome of 2+2 when you ask verbally. And he makes comic books. Yet he doesn’t want to write his name. It’s the only thing I’ve ever formally tried to teach him, and I was competitive when I did it because his younger cousin was doing it. I screwed up pushing it on him, basically. Though I didn’t push really, I should’ve taken his nature into account. The pre-K he attends wants to demote him to a slower class because of it, meanwhile telling me he’s “highly intelligent”. I’m homeschooling, the heck with them. And kudos to you, and your insight.

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