Parent Resources

Parent Resources

Developmental Checklists

Your Child at 1 Year

Your Child at 2 Years

Your Child at 3 Years

Your Child at 4 Years

Your Child at 5 Year

Fine Motor Readiness

Pincer Grasp
In typical development, we expect that babies about 12 months old will be able to pinch small objects with a pincer grasp, using the index finger and thumb.

Extended Grip
When the wrist is flexed (bent forward towards curved fingers in a grasp), there is little chance of fine motor dexterity. A flexed wrist in functional tasks limits use of the fingers due to the tendons of the fingers being shortened as they work to stabilize the wrist. The fingers just can’t move like they are supposed to. There are many exercises and activities that can be done to build the stability of the wrist so that it maintains a slightly extended position during fine motor activities.

Muscle Strength
The muscles in the forearm control elbow, wrist and finger movements. Smaller muscles within the palm of the hand control the more refined movements of the thumb and fingers. So, when we look at hand strength, we also need to look at the strength of those small muscles within the hand. As infants develop, they are able to control the thumb and fingers individually, rather than as a mass grip or squeeze.

Scissor Skills
Learning to use scissors in a controlled way takes lots of practice. Cutting on materials that are stiff and thick are easier to cut than thin flimsy materials. For example, it is easier to snip a plastic straw than a string. Card stock or construction paper is easier to cut then thin tissue paper or regular paper. Encourage your child to keep both thumbs in an upward position when cutting. That is, the thumb on the scissor hand and the thumb on the hand that is holding the paper or object should both be facing upward, toward the ceiling.

Eye Hand Coordination
Also referred to as Visual Motor Integration, this is the ability to control hand movement guided by vision. A child who is challenged in this area has difficulty coordinating body movements in response to what he/she is seeing. The skill areas affected in this domain are vast. Eye hand coordination affects our ability to color, draw basic strokes and pictures, solve mazes and dot to dot pictures, write by hand, catch a ball, bat a ball, create art, put a puzzle together, tie our shoes, build with blocks, thread a needle and use scissors.

Working on a Vertical Surface

Shoulder/Elbow Stability
The use of larger vertical surfaces such as chalkboards, marker boards, and Smart boards allows children to use bigger arm movements that encourage strength and flexibility throughout the joints and muscles of the upper extremities. Even the hand gets a hefty boost of strengthening as it works against gravity to keep making vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines.

Bilateral Coordination
Have you ever tried to use a stencil while working on a vertical surface? This is a tough skill! For kids, tracing an object, using a stencil, or even just stabilizing their paper to write on an upright surface requires the use of both hands (one to trace, one to hold) AND it requires proprioception and strength to hold the object that is being traced!

Midline Crossing
When a child is writing or drawing across a large vertical surface, he has to cross the midline of his body with his dominant hand to reach all of the spaces. This is great practice for children who are struggling with midline crossing and establishing a strong hand dominance.

Wrist Extension/Pencil Grasp
Vertical surface writing naturally puts the wrist in an extended position which encourages hand stabilization for better pencil grasp and control of writing utensils.

Visual Attention and Hand-Eye Coordination
Working on a vertical surface brings the task closer to the child’s eyes. This helps kids who have difficulty maintaining visual attention to activities and can help to encourage hand-eye coordination, as the child has a better view of what they are doing!

Spatial Awareness
When a child works on a large vertical surface, it makes directional terms (up, down, left, right) much easier to understand because the child can relate the words to his very own body!

Working at a vertical surface may be beneficial for fidgety kids who work better in a standing position than sitting at a desk. Let’s face it, we all work better if we can change positions!

Core Strength and Posture
Working in a kneeling or standing position at an upright surface gives kids a good dose of core strengthening. There’s no slumping or leaning on the back of the chair – the only choice is to engage those core and back muscles to maintain upright posture!

Reading Readiness

Print Motivation
Being excited about and interested in books

Print Awareness
Understanding that print on a page represents words that are spoken, knowing how to follow words on a page, and knowing how to hold a book.

Phonological Awareness
Understanding that words are made up of smaller sounds. Hearing and playing with smaller sounds in words. Phonological Awareness comes before phonics.

Knowing the names of things, feelings, concepts, and ideas. Knowing the meaning of words and connecting words to objects, events, or concepts in the world.

Narrative Skills
Being able to describe things and events. Being able to tell and understand stories.

Letter Knowledge
Understanding that letters are different from each other. Recognizing letters and knowing that they have different names and sounds

Math Readiness

In preschool math, children learn about numbers by counting objects and discussing the results. “You gave Chris six goldfish crackers. How many does Susie need?” Children count spaces on board games. They count the days until their birthdays. The teacher might say, “Yesterday there were 12 days until your birthday. How many days are there now?” Preschoolers read counting books and recite nursery rhymes with numbers.

Geometry and spatial relations
Children practice constructing shapes and discussing their properties. They see skinny triangles and fat triangles and upside-down triangles and gradually realize that they are all still triangles.

Children compare the height of a block tower with the height of a desk or table. They learn that this block is too short to make a bridge over the road. Preschool math teachers reinforce children’s findings by asking questions and making observations: “I wonder if this block is long enough to bridge the road. Let’s try it.”

Children become aware of patterns in their clothes. They learn to recognize patterns of different colors and sizes in beads and blocks. They practice reproducing simple patterns by stringing beads and copying designs with colored blocks.

Analyzing data
Children sort objects by color, size, and shape, count them, and record the data on graphs and charts. These charts might reflect the class pet’s growth, the number of rainy days in February, how many bean plants have sprouted, or the number of children with a birthday in March.

Importance of Science

Science Readiness
A young child starting preschool brings a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world. Whether watching snails in an aquarium, blowing bubbles, using a flashlight to make shadows, or experimenting with objects to see what sinks or floats, the child is engaged in finding out how the world works.

It is not exaggerating to say that children are biologically prepared to learn about the world around them, just as they are biologically prepared to learn to walk and talk and interact with other people. Because they are ready to learn about the everyday world, young children are highly engaged when they have the opportunity to explore. They create strong and enduring mental representations of what they have experienced in investigating the everyday world. They readily acquire vocabulary to describe and share these mental representations and the concepts that evolve from them. Children then rely on the mental representations as the basis for further learning and for higher order intellectual skills such as problem solving, hypothesis testing, and generalizing across situations

Two-year-olds are highly curious about unfamiliar objects, events and phenomena. They gather information using all their senses and motor skills. They also notice what happens as the result of certain actions and are beginning to categorize objects into groups. Their early language skills make descriptions of observations and experiences challenging, but they can make simple statements and use gestures to help communicate ideas.

Three-year-olds use all of their senses to make sense of the world around them. Their growing language skills help them to talk about their observations and experiences. In seeking solutions to problems, children at this age typically try different ideas until a successful one is found. Three-year-olds can classify and sort objects, but usually by only one characteristic at a time.

Four-year-olds approach the world with great curiosity and use their imaginations to help understand it. Hands-on explorations help them to separate reality from fantasy. They can participate in the planning and implementation of simple scientific investigations, and over the course of the year, will increase their abilities to make observations, gather information, compare data, identify patterns, describe and discuss observations, and form explanations and generalizations.

Five-year-olds really want to know more about how the world works. Hands-on experiences help them to form theories to explain “how” and “why” things happen. They can use tools like thermometers and scales to gather information and are able to more independently carry out simple investigations. Five-year-olds also use increasingly descriptive language to relay information, ask questions and provide explanations.


The Alphabet
The alphabet is based on geometric shapes and designs. Circles, crosses, triangles and squares all help to form the letters of the alphabet. One way to help your child with his handwriting is to hang a chalkboard in the family room or his bedroom – somewhere that is easily accessible to him. The chalkboard should be at least four feet by four feet and larger if space permits. Encourage your child to draw large geometric shapes on the board with chalk. He will soon grasp the concept of writing through his own creativity.

Take Away the Confusion
If your child can’t seem to keep his letters on the line of his workbook, use a red pen to mark where the bottom of the letters should rest. If your child has difficulty deciphering where to start his letters, use a green pen to show him where his letter strokes should begin. Since most printed letters begin at the top and end on the bottom, this method helps to rule out any confusion about where letters begin and end.

Holding Crayons and Pencils
Does your child hold crayons and pencils in an awkwardly?

Does he have trouble grasping crayons and pencils?

Encourage your child to build strength in his fingers and hands, by hanging from the schoolyard jungle gym. This also helps him develop shoulder muscles.

Another method of building finger and hand strength is by squeezing a stress ball or a clothes peg. This enhances finger coordination and assists your child in holding crayons and pencils correctly. Printing and writing requires good hand/eye coordination Your childs eyes must be able to follow moving objects while moving in a smooth and coordinated manner.

Encourage your child to develop good motor skills by hopping and skipping. Allow him to play video games on occasion to promote good hand/eye coordination skills.

Not Tracing
Does your child hold crayons and pencils in an awkwardly?

Does he have trouble grasping crayons and pencils?

Encourage your child to build strength in his fingers and hands, by hanging from the schoolyard jungle gym. This also helps him develop shoulder muscles.

Another method of building finger and hand strength is by squeezing a stress ball or a clothes peg. This enhances finger coordination and assists your child in holding crayons and pencils correctly. Printing and writing requires good hand/eye coordination Your childs eyes must be able to follow moving objects while moving in a smooth and coordinated manner.

Encourage your child to develop good motor skills by hopping and skipping. Allow him to play video games on occasion to promote good hand/eye coordination skills.

Modeling Clay
Purchase modeling clay and encourage your child to make letters with it. Once he’s made several letters, encourage him to put them together to make a word – possibly his own name. This assists him in for recognition.

Sand Writing
During the warm summer months, encourage your child to use a water gun or a stick to write letters in the dirt or sand. This teaches him to space and estimation, even though the writing surface has no boundaries. Once he has accomplished sand writing without boundaries, mark out a space six feet square and encourage him to write staying well within the lines. As he progresses, make the square smaller and smaller, until he is writing in a space about two feet square. This assists him in spacing and estimation and it’s a great summer project to help him improve his skills while on vacation. Kids love writing in the sand and you will have very little trouble getting him to do this exercise.

Reversing Letters
Is your child’s printing improving, yet he still continues to reverse his letters? Is so, encourage him to identify the left and right parts of his body. Play “Simon Says” and when you instruct your child to do something, specify whether he is to use the right or left part of his body.

Example: Simon Says to lift your right leg. Continue playing in this manner over a couple of weeks and you will soon realize that your child is no longer reversing his letters.

Observe your child’s posture as he sits and writes. Is he sitting with his feet flat on the floor, his back straight and slightly bent at the waist? Is he positioning his paper correctly? Posture is important for good writing skills. Instruct your child on posture and paper positioning and you will notice an improvement in his writing skills.

Holding the Pencil
If your child holds his pencil right at the tip, buy pencil grips and place them on the area where he should be holding it. This serves as a reminder each time the pencil is picked up. If pencil grips are not available at our local office supply store, twist and thin elastic band around the pencil several times to create one.

In order to print or write letters, your child has to be able to visualize them. Play games with plastic, magnetic letters. Ask him to close his eyes, feel the letter and identify it. If he is having trouble with certain letters, allow him to feel it and visualize it several times. The next time you ask him to print the letter, he may amaze you by printing or writing it correctly and neatly.

Make Signs
Young children love to be creative. Encourage your child to make signs. Ask him to make a sign for his bedroom door that says,”No Adults Allowed,” “Enter at Your Own Risk,” or maybe he would like to make one that identifies his room as his own. “Jordan’s Room,” can be written in the center of the sign and then he can decorate it with his favorite things, color it and hang it on his bedroom door.

Ask your child to lend you a hand and write out the grocery list for you as you make dinner. Tell him the things he needs to put on the list. If he does well, give him a small treat or a package of stickers. He may also write a birthday or Christmas list to give to his grandparents and other relatives.

Encouragement and Communication
As you assist your child with his printing and writing, give lots of encouragement and keep the lines of communication open. Never make your child feel like his efforts aren’t good enough. All that you can ask of him is that he try his best. Effort is important. Speak words of encouragement and give him small rewards for trying.


Young children can learn how to do simple daily self-help activities—they just need to be taught what to do. When teaching a child to do self-care skills, you first need to know what you can typically expect of a young child, your child’s skill level, and how to provide clear and simple instructions about how to do a task. In addition, providing children with ample encouragement that is both positive and specific will help promote their success. Children can learn, at a very young age, how to independently wash their hands, brush their teeth, and get undressed and dressed.

When teaching your child independence in self help routines (brushing teeth, hand washing, getting dressed/undressed), try these simple, yet effective, tips:

  1. Begin by getting down on your child’s eye level and gaining his attention. (i.e., touch your child gently, make eye contact, physically guide, or jointly look at the same object).
  2. Break down the routine into simple steps and state each step one at a time with positive and clearly stated directions. Sometimes we make the mistake of telling children what not to do or what they did wrong, such as, “Stop splashing in the water.” However, it’s more effective and clear to say, “All done washing, now it’s time to turn off the water.”
  3. To clarify steps even further, you could take a photo of each step in the routine and post it where the routine takes place. For instance, with hand washing, you could post photos above the sink. As you state one step at a time, show your child the photograph to illustrate what needs to be done.
  4. When teaching your child to do each step, model (i.e., demonstrate) how to do each step. After your child begins to learn the steps, you can take turns showing each other “how” to do the routine. Be prepared to provide your child with reminders about what to do. As a child first learns a skill, it’s common to forget a step and need assistance. You can simply model and say, “Look, do this,” and show how to do the step that is causing difficulty. If needed, you can gently physically guide your child in how to do the step so that he/she can feel successful.
Art Appreciation

Toddlerhood provides a valuable window of opportunity for kids to learn and develop the skills they need to succeed in life. Early literacy doesn’t just revolve around teaching children how to recite letters, read, and count – art can have a profound affect on their literacy, and development as well.

The importance of exposing kids to art early in life is often undervalued. But giving young children an appreciation for art encourages exploration, self expression, logical thinking, self-esteem, imagination, and creativity. Early art experiences also teach kids to think openly, create new meaning, be more tolerant of others’ differences, and gives them the courage to take risks. Here’s how to encourage art appreciation in your young child, and make the most out of those crucial learning years.
Provide Creative Materials

“Toddlers thrive when they create, experiment, and discover things they enjoy,” says daycare owner Camilla Brown. This is why giving them access to open-ended art materials is important. Art materials in the home should be varied and abundant. Some of these materials can include:

  • washable paints
  • markers
  • crayons
  • paintbrushes
  • modeling clay
  • construction paper
  • glue
  • colored tissue paper
  • shoe boxes
  • paper towel tubes
  • sponges
  • empty water bottles
  • chalk
  • paper plates
  • scrap paper
  • collage materials

After each art project, encourage your toddler to explore his creation in depth by making open-ended comments such as, “Tell me about your painting.” Remember, it’s the process of creating art that young children learn from, not the end product. So no matter how tempting, never criticize or judge your toddler’s artwork.


Stories are a great way to introduce new words and ideas into a child’s language. Stories can help children learn about concepts such as shape, size, space and color, up and down, inside and outside, numbers and the names of objects. Stories are also useful for teaching more complex ideas, such as the importance of sharing, the passage of time, compassion for others.

Reading stories can be helpful for relaxation, before bedtime for example. They allow children to forget the stresses and strains of the day and indulge in fantasy for a while. The soothing familiarity of a much-loved story, the rhyming and repetition in a picture book, plus the sense of security that time spent reading together can foster, all help the child to relax.

Stories help to develop a child’s imagination by introducing new ideas into their world – ideas about fantastical worlds, other planets, different points in time and invented characters. It’ll encourage the children to realize that they can, and should, imagine anything they want.

When children read stories that contain feelings it can help them understand and accept their own feelings. It helps them understand that there are other children who feel the same way and they are not alone. This helps the child understand that feelings are normal and should be expressed. Watching their responses to the feelings of the characters in the stories will give you some idea of how a child feels about certain situations and emotions. For example, how the child responds to the character in the story feeling sad or scared will give you some idea of how the child thinks.