Preschool and Fine Motor Skills for a Three-Year-Old

By Lea-Ann Virnig
preschooler with a book image by Lisa Eastman from

The average three-year-old child is eager to learn and experience the world around him. As he strives to grow in independence, his little brain is making huge strides. Three-year-olds use all their senses to test and experiment with their environment. They see, touch, taste, smell and hear everything.

Math and Reading Readiness Skills

In preschool, three-year-olds learn skills that lay a foundation and prepare them for their future academic years. Some of the important math-readiness skills a three-year-old should learn are the ability to count aloud to five, the ability to count at least three objects, and the ability to recognize simple patterns, shapes and colors. Reading readiness skills include the child recognizing her own name when written out; understanding position words, such as "up," "down" and "under"; asking questions, including who, what, where and why; and telling a simple story from pictures.

Practical Life Skills

Three-year-olds love to reach milestones that demonstrate their independence. Practical life skills are critical to establishing a child's autonomy. Preschool children should be able to name the parts of their body and say their first and last name. A major achievement around their third birthday will be the ability to use the bathroom, including the skills of wiping, flushing and washing their hands. A three-year-old child should have the ability to dress and feed himself as well.

Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills can be challenging to the three-year-old preschooler. Learning to properly hold a pencil or crayon and draw a simple circle and square is a huge achievement. Stacking blocks, stringing beads, and operating zippers, buttons and snaps are skills acquired by the typically developing three-year-old. Learning to use scissors and cut on the lines can be a daunting task for some, but it is easily mastered by others. By the end of a child's third year, she should be able to perform these fine motor skills.

Social Skills

Three-year-olds spend large amounts of time watching and observing what is happening around them. They are gaining command of language and should be able to speak in at least four-word sentences. Preschool provides the opportunity for the child to play with friends and grow in his ability to share, take turns and show respect and care for others. Children at this age need clear and simple rules to encourage appropriate behavior. They should be able to listen and follow three-step directions.

About the Author

Based out of Texas, Lea-Ann Virnig began her professional writing career in 2010 after several years of teaching writing to elementary and middle school students. She has also written presentations and retreats for area churches and organizations since 1997. She studied communications at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse.