Counting UP to Kindergarten... a guide to year-by-year milestones for ages 1-5
Learning begins at birth and continues for a lifetime. Gwinnett County Public Schools looks forward to welcoming your child to “big school” in the years ahead, but we know that you are your child’s first and most important teacher!
While every child reaches milestones at different times, the information on this web page provides you with a snapshot of what you can expect your child to know and be able to do at certain ages. We hope this guidance will help you and your child prepare for the exciting transition to Kindergarten and put your little one on the path to school success!
- Learn more about early learning and school readiness in GCPS and early learning support for children with special needs.
- Discover resources for families from Gwinnett Building Babies’ Brains, a communitywide initiative to ensure that all children in Gwinnett are ready to thrive in Kindergarten.
- Find high-quality childcare.
By age 1, a child typically will:
- Seek and respond to attention from adults.
- Develop trust and attachment toward known adults, including family members and caregivers.
- Explore and play with objects.
- Show preference for certain toys.
- Respond to his or her name.
- Take turns making sounds in “conversation.”
- Communicate wants and needs through sounds, words, or non-verbal gestures or facial expressions.
- Find hidden For example, the child might watch an adult hide a toy under a blanket and then “find” it.
- Imitate actions such as waving “bye-bye” or clapping.
- Respond to simple For example, when asked “Where is your book?,” the child will point to the book.
- Listen to short stories, songs, and rhymes for a short period of time.
- Coordinate movements, such as stacking big blocks, using eyes and hands.
- Get to a sitting position without help.
- Begin to feed self with hands or fingers.
Did you know? Your child’s brain is forming 700 new neural connections each second.
By age 2, a child typically will:
- Show interest in what others are doing by seeking interaction and making eye contact with familiar adults.
- Show interest in exploring surroundings.
- Begin to express feelings with words and gestures.
- Follow simple For example, the child will respond appropriately when asked to put on a hat or sit in the chair.
- Complete a task with help.
- Use one- and two-word phrases to communicate, such as “Juice, please.”
- Ask simple questions such as “Where doggy? or “Who that?”
- Point to familiar objects and people when named.
- Find objects, even when “hidden” under two or three layers.
- Demonstrate hand-eye coordination by turning pages in a book or stacking blocks.
- Hold a crayon and make scribble marks.
- Begin to run.
- Throw and/or kick a ball.
- Begin to use a spoon to feed self.
Did you know? In addition to nutritious foods, your child needs nutritious language. Hearing 2,000 positive words per hour will help your child be successful when older.
By age 3, a child typically will:
- Show affection to family and friends through words and gestures.
- Display a range of emotions.
- Talk clearly enough for others to understand most of the time.
- Use three- to four-word phrases and sentences to communicate.
- Follow single-step directions, even if new.
- Name familiar things such as family members, toys, food, and body parts.
- Use imagination in For example, a child may use a wooden block as a telephone.
- Play alongside peers and imitate their actions.
- Ask questions, particularly those asking Why?, Where?, and What?.
- Show interest in books and stories.
- Understand words like in, on, and under.
- Count to five.
- Match For example, a child would be able to put a red toy car in a red bowl.
- Hold markers and crayons with ease and begin to draw lines and circles.
- Complete activities, using both hands, such as putting together a puzzle with three or four pieces.
- Run with ease, climb, and jump.
- Begin to show independence in brushing teeth, selecting clothing, and putting on simple clothing such as pulling on pants.
Did you know? Nurturing and positive relationships with caregivers are key to your child’s future intellectual, behavioral, and social/emotional health.
By age 4, a child typically will:
- Initiate play and play cooperatively with others.
- Say his or her first name and share personal For example. “My name is ________.” “I like books.”
- Make choices and follow through with a preferred activity.
- Display increased attention to activities.
- Use five-to six-word sentences that are clearly understood by most adults.
- Sing familiar songs and retell familiar stories from memory.
- Take turns in a conversation, staying on topic.
- Ask questions about surroundings, particularly those asking How? and Why?.
- Participate in reading by making predictions based on pictures, turning pages independently, and answering questions about the book.
- Understand the meaning of same and different.
- Understand and use positional words such as in, under, and near.
- Identify some numbers, shapes, and letters.
- Count to 10.
- Sort objects by one characteristic. For example, a child could put all the blue toys together.
- Recognize simple 2-D shapes (circle, square, etc.).
- Use senses to make observations about surroundings. For example, “The bird in the tree is yellow.”
- Use crayons/markers and scissors appropriately (copies lines and circles, cuts across paper).
- Show independence in personal care, including feeding self and going to the bathroom.
Did you know? Your child learns best at this age through play and real-life experiences.
By age 5, a child typically will:
- Begin to form friendships with other children.
- Work well with others in a group.
- Follow rules and routines independently.
- Show problem-solving skills such as putting together a puzzle with up to 20 pieces.
- Take turns and wait for his or her turn.
- Focus on an activity for 10 minutes or longer.
- Follow multi-step directions independently.
- Recover quickly from a setback and try again.
- Use words to communicate thoughts and ideas and share feelings.
- Say first and last name when asked.
- Answer related questions after finishing a story.
- Make real-world connections to stories read.
- Identify words that rhyme.
- Recognize and name most upper- and lower- case letters and numbers 0–10.
- Understand that letters make words.
- Understand the meaning of more and less.
- Count to 20 and count a set of objects up to 10.
- Recognize and name common shapes, both 2-D (circle, triangle) and 3-D (sphere, cube).
- Hold a pencil or crayon appropriately to draw simple pictures and copy letters, numbers, and shapes.
- Dress and undress independently.
Did you know? Your child’s brain is already at 90% of the adult size by age 5.