Sometime around the end of your child’s first year, they will enter the toddler stage. This means that your child will experience rapid changes in all areas of development: physical, intellectual, and emotional. These learning and developmental processes occur in everything that happens to your child throughout their day. Knowing this, it is necessary to understand five major areas of development so you can know what to expect.

  • Physical development (which is broken down into two parts)-
    1. Gross motor: developing control of large muscles
    2. Fine motor: developing control of muscles in hands and fingers
  • Emotional development – an increasing awareness and control of their feelings and reactions to these feelings in a given situation.
  • Social development – pattern or process of change resulting from interactions with other individuals, socials settings, social customs, etc.
  • Language development – the process by which children come to understand and communicate using language.
  • Cognitive development – the process of learning to think, remember, imagine, gather and organize information, solve problems and develop judgment.

Experts in the early childhood profession recognize that all areas of development are important, working in tandem towards the optimum development of the child. Here at Kimber Hills Preschool, we recognize that the toddler child learns through everythingthat happens throughout the day. This leaves us with an important question: “Where is my child developmentally and what should I be looking for?”
​Here is a brief overview of each developmental area and what you can expect to see from your toddler.


Gross Motor

  • Walking / running
  • Beginning to climb (including stairs)
  • Increased balance
  • Kicking / throwing a ball

Fine Motor:

  • Picks up small objects
  • Makes marks with writing materials / uses a paintbrush
  • Stacks blocks and toys
  • Begins to feed self with utensils
  • Working simple puzzles
  • Can turn pages of a book


  • Demonstrates trusting attachments with adults
  • Tries new activities without hesitation
  • Demonstrates growing independence
  • Uses facial expressions and other physical emotions to communicate
  • Develops ability to discern others feelings through body language and facial expressions
  • Has developed ways to calm/soothe self


  • Play and interact with another child
  • Engages in parallel play
  • Participates in simple games
  • Begins to cooperate
  • Begins to understand and follow simple rules
  • Shows empathy and understanding of others’ feelings


  • Uses words to indicate needs and wants
  • By 18 months knows as many as 10 words
  • By 24 months knows as many as 250 words
  • By 36 months knows as many as 900 words
  • Uses 2-3 word sentences
  • Refers to self by name
  • Points to objects when named
  • Shows interest in stories, rhymes and songs
  • Can answer simple questions about story, rhyme or song


  • Begins to problem-solve
  • Begins to identify body parts
  • Begins to count
  • Explores spatial concepts, over/under, in/out, etc.
  • Fills and dumps objects
  • Identifies shapes
  • Is aware of patterns
  • Understands cause and effect

These are just some of them main milestones you will see your toddler reach. It is important to remember that toddlers do not develop at the same rate. There is a wide range that is considered normal. A child may be advanced in one area and slightly behind in another. If at any time you are concerned about your toddler’s development, you should consult a child development professional or your own pediatrician.

Below I have listed some websites and additional resources that may prove helpful if you have additional questions or a desire to do additional research.

First Five California’s Parent Site – The place to go for everything children 0-5.

Focus on the Family – Helping Families Thrive

Every child grows and develop at their own pace. Still, child development tends to follow a fairly predictable path. Check out this child development chart from ages 2 to 5. If your child’s development seems to be lagging behind in certain areas, share your concerns with your child’s doctor.
I really like this chart because it is simply stated and segmented according to  different developmental areas.


Gestwicki, Carol Developmentally Appropriate Practice: Curriculum and Development in Early Education 4th Edition, Wadsworth Publishers, 2010

Gonzalez-Mena, Janet and Widmeyer Eyer, Dianne Infants, Toddlers and Caregivers 4th Edition, California, Mayfield Publishing Company, 1997

Gonzalez-Mena, Janet and Widmeyer Eyer, Dianne Infants, Toddlers and Caregivers; A Curriculum of Respectful, Responsive Care and Education, McGraw Hill Publishers, 2008

Segal Ph.D. Marilyn, Your Child at Play: One to Two Years, New York, Newmarket Press 1998


Theresa Cook has a Bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education from Bethany University. She is a preschool teacher at Kimber Hills Preschool and has served the children and their families for more than ten years.

Written by: Mrs. Theresa Cook

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