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When your child is over three years old

  • Think about when your child will start school and apply in time.
  • Join in with activities at your local Children's Centre, nurseries or schools, to prepare to start school.
  • Vaccinations are offered to your child at 3 years and 4 months old.
  • Apply for 15 or 30 hours of funded early education.

Child development

By the age of three your child may:

  • Talk and learn lots of new words.
  • Walk, climb, jump and run.
  • Begin to sort shapes and colours.
  • Begin to show an interest in potty/toilet training.
  • Explore the world around them and may begin to show defiance!
  • Be able to play in a group with their friends. They can make up ideas for things to do and games to play.
  • Understand:
    • When they are sad or cross.
    • Also, that if they shout or say unkind things, they might make their friends sad or worried too.
  • Be able to run around, stop, change direction and slow down, so that they do not bump into things.
  • Be able to make the lines and marks that they want with a pencil/mark making tools.
  • Be able to remember to go to the toilet in time and wipe themselves (most of the time).
  • Be able to listen to the stories you tell me and talk about them later.
  • Be able to use a range of self-help skills to eat, drink, dress and get help when they need it.
  • Join in with their favourite bits when you read familiar stories. Things like, "Who's been sleeping in my bed?", when you are reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
  • Be able to join in with their favourite rhymes and stories with you and guess what will happen next.
  • Ask lots of questions and answer your questions too.
  • Be able to sing some familiar songs.

For a parent's guide from birth to five years, with a wealth of information for families, visit: Healthy Early Years.

Parental support to child

  • Play listening games together, such as "Simon says ..." or "Ready, steady, go", where they have to wait to do something.
  • Tell them about things you did before and places you visited.
  • Give them simple instructions to follow, when you are doing things together.
  • Make them an obstacle course in the garden or park.
  • Help them to brush their teeth every day, in the morning and at night time.
  • Put numbers on games and your child's favourite toys and help them to recognise them.
  • Count whenever you can and encourage them to count too. For example:
    • How many flowers are there?
    • How many steps are there to the next lamp post?
    • How many pieces of Lego are in this pile?
  • Read labels and signs wherever you go. Make shopping lists for them to use when shopping. Label toys in pretend play, such as a shop.
  • Let your child make the shopping list. Hide something and make a treasure map. Make signs for doors.
  • Explore the local community and the natural world.

Advice and support

For general health and learning, see: Advice and support. (New born to 5 years old).

Any other key information and useful websites

Things to think about

If you think you need urgent help (day or night), before you go to any other health service, phone: 111.

  • You will be directed straight away to the local service that can help you best.
  • It is available anytime, everyday and is free to call from a mobile or landline.

You should phone: 111:

  • When you need help fast, but it is not life threatening.
  • When you think you need to go to A&E or another NHS urgent care service.
  • When it is outside of your GP's surgery hours.
  • When you do not know who to call for medical help.
  • If you do not have a local GP to call.

Important note: For serious and life-threatening emergencies, phone: 999.

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