What Children Should Be Able to Do By Age 3

The following is a list of accomplishments that you can except for your child be age 3.  This list is based on research in the fields of reading, early childhood education, and child development.  Remember, that children don’t develop and learn at the same pace and in the same way.  Your child may be more advanced or need more help than other in his or her age group.  You are, of course, the best judge of your child’s abilities and needs.  You should take the accomplishments as guidelines and not as hard-and-fast rules.

A three-year-old child:

  • Likes reading with an adult on a regular basis
  • Listens to stories from books and stories that you tell
  • Recognizes a book by its cover
  • Pretends to read books
  • Understands that books are handled in certain ways
  • Looks at pictures in a book and knows that they stand for real objects
  • Says the name of objects in books
  • Comments on characters in books
  • Asks and adult to read to him or help him write
  • May begin paying attention to print such as letters in names
  • Begins to tell the difference between drawing and writing
  • Begins to scribble as a way of writing, making some forms that look like letters

The main sources for this list of accomplishments are Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children and Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children.