Young Children: from 3-4 years old



  • It is important to teach young children to listen to others, participate in discussions and ask questions.


Tip: Listen and respond to their chatter and stories with concentration and answer their many questions in a way they can fully understand that encourages them to keep asking questions.


  •  The young child’s listening skills are constantly improving! They are able to listen attentively to stories and retell them. They can also accurately repeat sentences.

Tip: Their vocabulary is still developing and they are easily receptive to everything they hear so watch your word choices and style of communication when you are around young children.




  • The young child has mastered some basic rules of grammar and speaks in sentences of five to six words that are clear enough for every listener to understand.


Tip: Always try to include children in conversations. Also, encourage children to experiment with new words by regularly sharing new words with them, using the word in sentences, and congratulating them whenever they use those and other new words.


  • In their third year, children like asking questions and imitating what you are saying.


Tip: Introduce new words and ideas each day through new experiences for the children by working with themes or topics for example, ‘Insects’ or ‘The Weather’, or by adding new labels to items in their environment, for example, “This is a millipede and it looks so much like a centipede” or “Look at the clouds. They are close together and dark. It may rain today.”



Emergent Reading


  • Young children can notice words in the environment such as STOP signs and billboards.


Tip: Repeatedly read words you encounter as you are out-and-about. This is a great time for you to introduce new words and ideas to the child so also talk them through everything they are seeing.


  • Children can recalls parts of a story and engage in fantasy play.


Tip: When reading, try to include song and demonstrations, as well as using different voices for different characters.


  • They understands the concept of same/different and can correctly name some colours.


Tip: Teach them basic colours (red, blue, green, orange and yellow).



Emergent Writing


  • Children are keen artists at this age and like to copy shapes, draw stick-people and attempt to copy some letters.


 Tip: Give them a range of thick writing and drawing tools such as thick paintbrushes and thick wax crayons to copy patterns, words and letters. The thickness is important because it allows their little fingers and hands to grasp writing and drawing materials properly.

  •  They notice print in the environment, and may ask what it means. They also realize that print in books tells a reader what to say.


Tip: Teach them about the wide range of uses for writing and drawing, for example, “I am writing a list so that I don’t forget what we need to buy at the spaza shop” or “Look! The traffic officer is writing down the number plate of that car and she will send the owner a ticket because they have parked in the wrong place.” Also, encourage them when they use writing for these functions in “real” life and in play (e.g. scribble phone messages in house play, make signs for block buildings, create letters and cards for family members and friends)