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Home > My Child > Ages and Stages > 3 to 4 Years > Intellectual Development

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Intellectual Development - Problem Solving: 3 to 4 years

Intellectual Development means being able to communicate, to think both creatively and abstractly, to pay attention, solve problems, and develop keen judgment and a lifelong readiness to learn.

Emerging Skills
  • Begin to sort and classify objects by characteristics
  • Compare amounts
  • Begin to understand and apply concepts of pattern, sequence and order
  • Begin to understand concepts such as opposites
  • Better understand and recognize different shapes
  • Begin to understand directional and positional concepts (how objects are positioned in space, for example, over, behind, next to, etc.)
  • Find out more about What to Expect from your preschooler, 3 to 4 Years.


    Through the comfort and responsiveness of an adult, preschoolers will learn how to handle their emotions and how to seek help when needed.

    Parents Can:
  • Introduce the concepts of sorting and classifying in daily routines. For example, "Let's put your socks in this drawer and your shirts in this drawer" or sorting groceries by fresh fruits, cans, boxes
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to understand that any group of items can be sorted into sets
  • Begin to understand that he can create any "set" he wishes

  • Parents Can:
  • Talk to their preschooler about events or people that make him feel happy, sad or angry
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to classify common events and objects in his life, such as things that make him happy or sad, things that are fun and things that are scary
  • Begin to categorize and sort the emotions and responses of others in his environment
  • Gain awareness of his own feelings
  • Become comfortable with talking about emotions

  • Play

    Through opportunities for play, preschoolers will experience joyful, free, spontaneous moments of fun while also learning about themselves and others.

    Parents Can:
  • Provide their preschooler with a box of mixed beads or buttons that can be sorted by colour, shape, number of holes in a button and so on, in an egg carton
  • Child Will:
  • Will sort and classify by different characteristics
  • Begin to create her own classification system
  • Better understand and recognize different shapes

  • Parents Can:
  • Provide hard and soft craft materials such as feathers, cotton balls, strings, popsicle sticks and beads. Have their preschooler create a picture and talk about the different textures and why some are soft and others are hard
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to understand the concept of opposites
  • Understand another way materials can be classified

  • Parents Can:
  • Engage their preschooler in matching games using cards or home made sticker cards
  • Child Will:
  • Practice matching paired cards (for example, fruits, colours, shapes)
  • Strengthen memory skills as she tries to find a matching pair from cards that are turned over (more advanced skill)

  • Teach

    Through routines, and emotionally and physically safe and secure environments, preschoolers can learn how to think, solve problems and communicate.

    Parents Can:
  • Use play with peg boards, lego, blocks and other building materials to explore different patterns, shapes and sequences
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to recognize patterns
  • Begin to recognize and label shapes and colours
  • Experiment with pattern making
  • Begin to understand how sequences make up patterns

  • Parents Can:
  • Include their preschooler in cooking activities, and use these to explore measurement
  • Child Will:
  • Learn about different quantities
  • Explore different textures in wet and dry ingredients
  • Understand how quantity, numbers and measurement all relate

  • Social Development: 3 to 4 years
    Emotional Development: 3 to 4 years
    Intellectual Development - Language: 3 to 4 years
    Intellectual Development - Numeracy: 3 to 4 years

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