what should a 3 year-old know educationally

What Should A 3-Year-Old Know Educationally?

Watching your child grow is one of the most fulfilling and joyous experiences. As they come out of the “terrible twos”, they are comparatively calmer and listen to you more. However, as a parent, you always want to ensure that your child is ahead of the game and is reaching all their age-appropriate milestones, especially educationally.

So, what should a 3-year-old know educationally? Keep reading to find out.

What Should A 3-Year-Old Know Educationally?


Before starting preschool, kids already have a good foundation that has been laid during their younger years and good cognitive skills. However, from an educational point of view, your child must have developed the skills described below:

1. Language Skills

Between 18 and 30 months of age, a baby has enough understanding of what you are telling them or commanding them to do. However, by age 3, the baby will understand basic sentences and have a small vocabulary. They will be able to recognize:

• Body parts
• Animals and their sounds
• Manners like saying “please” and “thank you”
• Vehicles
• Shapes and colors
• Actions like come, go, sit, stand, close, open, up, and down.
• Household objects

Their language skills will be developed based on their surroundings and their preferences. As kids are fascinated by animals and cartoons, they are more likely to recognize and name them.

2. Reading

Initially, a child will not understand the concept of reading. They will only be fascinated by the vibrant colors and drawings in the book. However, later, they will start holding the book properly and start recognizing alphabets and numbers.

Reading does not have to start with schooling, and it is not limited to books. Building skills that will aid in reading is important as well.  You can read names on cereal boxes, toy packages, clothing labels, and so on. The idea is to instill an interest in reading, which helps develop language skills.

If you read to a child regularly, by the age of three, they will be able to recognize their favorite book, hold it properly, turn pages, use words and phrases from the book, and recognize the sequence of events based on the illustrations.

3. Vocabulary

When the child is around 2, they may know about 50 words. However, as they near the age of 3, there is a spurt in vocabulary, and the child may know around 300 words. They will go from saying single words to 3-word sentences like, “Me want water,” and “I go too.”

Also, they will be able to understand basic one-step instructions like “Wear your shirt” and “Go to your room.” Some may be a bit advanced, understanding two-step instructions like “Pick up the toy and put it in the basket.”

They will start understanding words in the past tense, like walked, climbed, and jumped. They may even be able to give a broken rundown of what happened on their outing or recite a poem or story.

You will be able to understand almost 75% of what your child is saying as they start speaking more clearly. The kid will gradually also start forming grammatically correct sentences like “I am going” instead of “I go”.

A good vocabulary forms the foundation of academic success. So, the child must start developing vocabulary, communication skills, and language at an early age.  To help with this, engage the child in conversations. You can ask them questions on the way to school about what they see and like.

Ask them what they would like to do or buy on a trip to the park or supermarket. Talk to them about whatever interests them—cars, dinosaurs, or anything they like. The idea is to engage the child in a conversation and throw in new words for them to process and grasp.

List Of The Important Things Your 3-Year-Old Should Know Academically


By the age of three, a child starts recognizing and memorizing things. Their curiosity is at its highest at this point, so it is the best time to teach them. However, by this time, your child will already know some things:

• Say their name and age
• Recite alphabets
• Count numbers (at least till 10)
• Identify colors and shapes (the basic ones)
• Answer simple questions
• Tell stories
• Complete age-appropriate puzzles
• Understand the difference and similarities between things
• Ask a lot of questions
• Must have a vocabulary of around 300-500 words
• Follow simple instructions like “wash your face”, “brush your teeth”, “go to bed”
• Understand the difference between day and night

Should You Be Worried If Your 3-Year-Old Doesn’t Know These Things?


Every child develops at their own pace. While some may walk early, others may talk early. Still others may be a bit late in doing both things.

You need not worry if your child does not reach every milestone according to their age. Just ensure that your child’s growth and development are progressing with time. However, if you notice that your child is way behind kids of the same age group, you must consult a pediatrician. Some signs that are a cause for worry if found in a 3-year-old are:

• Difficulty walking up and down the stairs
• Frequent falling
• Inability to hold a pencil or a crayon and draw a circle
• Speaks only short sentences and mixes up “me” and “you”
• Doesn’t understand simple commands
• Does not make eye contact
• Constant drooling and obscure speech
• Not interested in playing and cannot work simple toys
• Resists getting dressed, going to the bathroom, or sleeping
• Does not engage in imaginative play and does not befriend other kids easily
• Loses skills that they once had

If your child is experiencing the above symptoms, it can be a sign of a developmental disorder. However, you need not worry as there are treatments that can help your child.

Should You Get An IQ Test For Your 3-Year-Old?

It is a good sign if your child has met most of the age-appropriate milestones. However, if you want to determine if your child has high intelligence, you may opt for an IQ test. Note that the results may not be accurate.

IQ tests are recommended for children between the ages of 5 and 8. Anytime younger will be too soon, and the results may change with age.

A 3-year-old should have developed most skills listed in this article. Tracking a child’s proper development is necessary for their academic progress and to detect any developmental delays. Fortunately, an early diagnosis helps recovery in many cases and gives the child and parents the support and guidance they need.

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