My 4 year old

A boy playing with a toy car

Five to Thrive

Respond – Cuddle – Relax – Play - Talk

Do these five things each time you interact with your child from the time they are born and you will help to grow a healthy, strong and confident child.

To find out more about more about each of the Five to Thrive expand the boxes below.


My brain grows better when you respond to me.

My brain works very slowly at first. But when you respond to me in the same way over and over again the connections you are helping to build grow strong. Then they can carry messages between the different parts of my brain more quickly.

Key milestones

  • I talk to and make friends with other children and grown ups I know.
  • I like helping you when you are busy, like putting some shopping away or matching my socks together.


My brain grows better when you cuddle me.

Before I was born I was more aware of touch than of any other sense, and I was safely held in a small space. Now I can move freely, but I still feel most safe when I am in contact with a grown up who loves me.

Key milestones

  • I know that stories have beginnings and endings and sometimes I guess how the story will end.
  • I like to look at the pictures and words in books. I can show you words when we are outdoors.
  • I can recognise my own name and words that are special to me, like 'mummy' and my favourite shops and foods.


My brain grows better when you relax with me.

I know that having a baby is stressful. But if you can find ways to relax when you are with me, you can make a big difference to the way my brain works.

Key milestones

  • I can wash and dry my own hands.
  • When you help me and hold out my coat, I can put it my arms in and I can do the zip up when you start it. I can pull my own trousers up too.


My brain grows better when you play with me.

When you play counting games, or singing games or action games, my brain builds connections that help me to make sense of the world around me and to have fun.

As I get older, playing with me and helping me to play on my own or with other children builds connections in my brain that make it possible for me to think and plan, to make sense of the world around me and to develop social skills.

Key milestones

  • I can run around, stopping, changing direction and slowing down so that I don’t bump into things.
  • When you show me how to stand on just one foot, I can copy you, just for a second without falling over.
  • I can say numbers in order from 1 to 10.
  • I know that numbers tell me how many things there are altogether, like 8 biscuits on a plate
  • I can hold my pencil near the top, like a grown up, using my thumb and two fingers, not my whole hand.
  • I can make the lines and marks that I want with a pencil.
  • When I see your writing, I tell you what I think it means, like the shopping list says 'beans and chips and ice cream'.


My brain grows better when you talk to me.

When you talk to me I copy you. At first I can only make a few sounds, but the more you talk to me the more I can make sounds into words. I need you to tell me everything right from the start. I know nothing, so everything I learn in my life will be built on what you are teaching me now. Involve me in life by telling me about it.

Key milestones

  • I am beginning to use longer sentences with words like 'because' and 'and' like 'I cried, I did, because I banged my foot'
  • I can tell you about something that happened yesterday, like 'remember when we went to the park and had a green apple and came home'.
  • I ask lots of questions and answer your questions too.
  • I pretend about things when I am playing, like using my coat on my head 'this is my magic flying cape'.

Activities for 4 years old

All the fun activities that you do with your child at home are important in supporting their learning and development and have a long-lasting effect on your child’s learning as they progress through school or nursery or at a childminder.

Personal, social and emotion development

Physical development

Communication and language

Understanding the word



Expressive arts and designs

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