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Milestones: Age 3


How children use media has a lot to do with who they are. Although no two kids are exactly alike, children generally go through the same stages of development. Knowing these stages can help you encourage your child to use media in new and creative ways.

3 year old boy

Your 3 year old says...

  • I can tell simple stories.

    What you can do: Ask your child specific questions about what's on TV, on the computer screen and in books. As your child speaks, you might add information to help him learn new vocabulary. For example, if your child says "dog," you can say, "yes, the large, furry dog."

  • I like hearing and seeing the same story over and over again.

    What you can do: Ask your child questions about TV shows, videos and software games — even if they are favorites that he's seen a dozen times. Though you may have memorized a story, your child may still be learning it.

  • I like to sing simple songs and can carry a tune.

    What you can do: Choose TV programs and computer activities that include songs and rhythms. Encourage your child to sing and dance rather than just watch. Don't be afraid to sing and dance together.

  • I can name and match basic colors, like red, blue, yellow and green. I am starting to learn shapes.

    What you can do: Ask your child questions while he's watching TV and playing on the computer. For example, point to the screen and ask: "What is that number?" "Does that door look like a rectangle or a circle?" "Do you know what color her shoes are?"

  • I like to ask who, what and why questions.

    What you can do: While watching TV shows, playing with software or visiting Web sites, explain to your child why certain events happen, who characters are and why they do the things they do.

  • I am interested in things that are the same and things that are different.

    What you can do: Point out when a TV character or animal does something physical that your child can do too — like hopping, jumping, going down a slide or walking like a monkey. Then do the motion together.

  • I want to move my body in new ways.

    What you can do: Choose TV programs and computer activities that include songs and rhythms. Encourage your child to sing and dance rather than just watch. Don't be afraid to sing and dance together.

  • I enjoy helping out around the house and doing easy chores.

    What you can do: If you make a habit of covering the TV set or closing the doors to a cabinet where the computer is stored, encourage your child to be a part of that ritual.

  • I know whether I am a boy or a girl. I am learning what boys and girls are supposed to wear and what they are supposed to do.

    What you can do: Avoid TV shows with gender stereotypes that teach your child that an activity is "just for boys" or "just for girls." Tell your child that both girls and boys can be anything they want to be and give specific examples.

  • I like to hear stories that are about me.

    What you can do: If you have made home videos or have a scrapbook or pictures of your child, look at them with him and talk about what happened the day you took the pictures.

  • I spend a lot of time watching what's going on around me.

    What you can do: Turn TV watching into an activity. Ask your child questions about what he sees and hears.

  • If I am around people who seem different from me, I may become curious and ask questions.

    What you can do: Choose TV shows, books and software that expose your child to people of different backgrounds. Talk to him about what makes a culture unique and special.

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