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How much is a 3.5 year old realistically expected to know? How much does your 3.5 years old know?

(46 Posts)
mumtochloe Sun 27-Feb-05 18:47:46


DD goes to a nursery attached to a primary school and we had our first parents evening last week.

We arrived earlier than expected and because they were running late we had to wait about half an hour which gave us plenty of time to overhear the teachers conversations with other parents in DD's class.

Well, either everone elses kids are child genius's or DD is seriously behind. The other kids parents were told how well they were doing as they could add up small sums eg 2 + 2, they all seem to know the alphabet and their pictures are so much more advanced. Also DD has one close friend who she is inseparable from, but the word popular was mentioned with all four other parents but not DD. They mentioned she has problems with concentration which I know she does, but according to the teacher she doesn't know things like shapes which she knew just before she turned 2.

DD is a lovely little girl with impeccable manners and to me always seemed like a fast learner. She loves books and is usually keen to learn, but now I feel as though I should be doing more. I spend around 15 minutes a day with her going though the alphabet, numbers etc, (I work full time) and she always has a story at bedtime but should I be doing more? If not then what can I do to help her catch up?

Any advice would be appreciated? Are 3.5 year old really expected to know so much already?


trefusis Sun 27-Feb-05 18:59:51

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trefusis Sun 27-Feb-05 19:01:17

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coppertop Sun 27-Feb-05 19:02:49

3.5yr-olds shouldn't be expected to know their alphabets, shapes etc IMHO. A lot of children still don't know them by the the time they start school and this is absolutely fine.

Ds1 did know these things at pre-school but this was seen as unusual. He is autistic and so liked to look at numbers etc. It wasn't something that we had taught him. He certainly couldn't draw great pictures at that age. In fact he only learned how to hold a pencil properly in Reception and only really started to draw recognisable pictures a couple of months ago. (he is now 4.5yrs old).

I didn't realise that pre-schools actually had parents evenings. Ds1's pre-school certainly didn't. The emphasis was on play and learning through play, not being able to do academic stuff.

Your dd sounds absolutely fine to me.

roisin Sun 27-Feb-05 19:03:35

I would also be livid with the school for arranging parent-teacher consultations that can be overheard by other people ... IMO that's outrageous.

foxinsocks Sun 27-Feb-05 19:05:20

I don't think they're expected to know that much.
Is your child young for her year? A year at that age makes a HUGE difference (just thinking of things like social skills, drawing ability, concentration).

My dd is 4 and ds is nearly 3 and a half and neither of them can do sums (although dd does do some simple ones in reception, she wouldn't be able to recite them). Ds does know his alphabet and shapes but he cannot hold a pencil or draw anything other than scribbles.

What are their worries about her concentration?

foxinsocks Sun 27-Feb-05 19:07:23

I mean if they are worried she's not concentrating when they are getting her to add up numbers then I'm not surprised she's not wanting to do it!! Ds hardly sits still for a minute! They're still only babies at that age - some of ds's friends are only just out of nappies, they are really very young to do all that academic stuff.

RTKangaMummy Sun 27-Feb-05 19:10:26

I agree rosin

Imagine if your child was have big behaviour probs you wouldn't want it to be playgroud gossip.

DS is now 9 so can't really help with ability levels.

Did you ask if she plays with other children if her best friend is away ill for example?

IIRC Nursery class at DS school has a programme called FOUNDATION STAGE which is nursery and reception following on from each other IYSWIM

Perhaps ask to see teacher again one day after nursery and you could put all the questions to her again then if still worried.

Good luck

throckenholt Sun 27-Feb-05 19:10:39

my boy is 3yrs 7 months - he knows some letters, can't add up, can count to 20(ish !), drawing improving - now draws circle shaped faces and puts in eyes, mouth etc in some sort of relation to their locations. Not gregarious.

i honestly think kids should not be "taught" those things at that age - if they pick them up well fine, but they really should be picking up social skills and having fun at that age !

And parents evenings ? why ?!

FairyMum Sun 27-Feb-05 19:13:42

My Ds1 is 3.5. He knows some letters (certainly not the whole alphabet), some shapes and can't add up at all. What I care about it that he is kind to others and has an excellent sense of humour

bobbybob Sun 27-Feb-05 19:32:44

Parents shouldn't have to be worried about this stuff at 3.5 it's just not on. The whole idea of a parents evening at that age just turns me off completely. The whole thing sounds revolting and far from doing more I think you should be relaxing and letting her have a childhood when she is not at the nursery.

If you like her, and think she is learning well then don't let someone without your expert knowledge of your daughter tell you otherwise. In the nurseries defence it sounds like they didn't compare your daughter to anyone, you are doing that yourself. I do think you should tell them how upsetting you heard hearing about other children and suggest they make it more private.

Gobbledigook Sun 27-Feb-05 19:35:35

Not read the other posts but I'd be very surprised if the majority of other 3.5 yr olds could do sums. I don't know any that can, including my almost 4 yr old (as far as i know anyway!) who I've been told by his nursery teacher is 'exceptionally good with numbers'.

I'd be surprised if she didn't know shapes though - I wonder if she is just shy about coming out and saying the names? Maybe it's all been a bit overwhelming for her so that so far she is keeping quiet?

Gobbledigook Sun 27-Feb-05 19:37:19

Just read Trefusis's post and I 100% agree. I HATE the overly academic focus there seems to be now at nursery. IMO it's ridiculous at the age of 3 and 4 to be pushing them to know all these things.

mumeeee Sun 27-Feb-05 20:19:40

! work in a Nursery and we don't expect 3'5 year olds to know their alphabet or to be able to add up. We do a lot of learning through play and a lot of counting games and songs.

juniperdewdrop Sun 27-Feb-05 20:33:18

EEek I'm seriously worried about my 4.5 year old then!!! No, not really but my goodness this nursery sounds rather unusual. Is it a private nursery? I remember DS1 starting school and there were kids there who didn't know things your dd is expected to mumtochloe. You sound like a great mum who is doing more than enough with her.

toomanypushchairs Sun 27-Feb-05 20:36:17

I agree with most of the other's, surely 3yr olds should be playing etc, aren't we told by the experts now that children should learn through play? Aside from that all children are different. my dd now 10 went to playgroup at 3yrs being able to write her own name(Rebecca) aswell as mummy, daddy, & Nanny.However my ds now 7 could only just about write his name when he went to school at 5yrs, and even then not everyone could read it!

PuffTheMagicDragon Sun 27-Feb-05 21:09:10

A 3.5 year old being able to do number operations (eg addition) is unusual. Some might have some knowledge of the alphabet and numbers - it varies enormously. "Problems" with concentration are very common in nursery because it's not necessarily a problem at such a young age IYSWIM. It's a skill that a very young child is still developing.

I don't think you need to worry, or feel that you have to do more with her at home.

Dior Sun 27-Feb-05 21:17:44

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Cod Sun 27-Feb-05 21:18:28

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rogan2001 Sun 27-Feb-05 21:26:02

my Ds went for his 3, 3half check up with the hv last week and she said at this age, they are happy if they can count to 3 and name 3 colours and shapes, I know a lot of children will be able to do more, but she said this is all that is expected of them at this age, so i would'nt worry at all.

Mercedes Sun 27-Feb-05 22:21:33

My dd is 3.5 as well. She can count up to 20. I think she's starting to realise what numbers are but that's only cos she tries to negotiate more stories at bedtime. She knows shapes on her good days and knows the alphabet song. I think she recognises the letter a and e but wouldn't swear on it. Like your dd she loves to read books and seems bright enough to me.

She goes to a community run pre-school that does follow a curriculum with the alliance of pre-schools. She was offered a place with the nursery attached to our local primary school but we refused it as we were worried that it would concentrate too much on getting kids ready for school rather than learning through play.

I too work and sometimes worry about if I'm doing enough with her. I figured the best thing I could do apart from the reading was to allow time to sit and draw with her, cut things up and glue things etc. I did it once just to find out what was happening

DD's pre-school is happy for parents to come along and help out. I took the afternoon off work and went along to one session partly to see what happened but also to reassure myself that she had friends and played with other kids as she hardly ever mentioned anyone. She wasn't any better or worse than the other kids as far as I could see. Would your dd's school allow you to do this?

Mercedes Sun 27-Feb-05 22:23:25


Can I say that I have drawn with her more than once. Ignore bit that says did it once - honestly

mumtochloe Mon 28-Feb-05 11:19:53

Hello Everyone

Thanks ever so much for your quick responses.

Yes - DD is an August birthday so would be one of the youngest in her year. I guess what is worrying me is I could read fluently at the age of 3.5 and am not sure if this is / was the norm.

Unfortunatly I work full time so going to the nursery would be out - particularly as I have a very unsympathetic employer who acts like I am letting the office down if I take any time off for child related stuff.

The nursery is attached to a catholic school and there does seem to be a lot of emphasis on academic work. However DD can write her own name in a very messy way, and does know her shapes, just not according to the teachers. She has to be in the mood for learning and does tend to be easily distracted so I think this is where the problem lies.

I guess all I can is to keep teaching her the alphabet etc when SHE is in the mood and not get too down about where she is in relation to her class. After all - a lot of the kids are a lot older.

Thanks! xxxx

RTKangaMummy Mon 28-Feb-05 11:31:07

I have just remembered

DS got very low scores for his Base line asssesment

This was because he didn't "vocalise" the answer he could not be given the score. The teacher told us she could tell he knew the answer but because he didn't vocalise it He would be marked as not knowing it.

He wouldn't speak in class for several years to the teachers.

Do you think she is reluctant to tell the teacher what she actually knows?

RTKangaMummy Mon 28-Feb-05 11:32:59

He has been diagnosed as Dyspraxic with an IEP and is speaking up in class a lot more and his teachers are very pleased with the progress

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