The dynamics of neutrally buoyant particles transported by a turbulent flow is investigated for spherical particles with radii of the order of the Kolmogorov dissipative scale or larger. The pseudo-penalization spectral method that has been proposed by Pasquetti et al. (Appl. Numer. Math., vol. 58, 2008, pp. 946–954) is adapted to integrate numerically the simultaneous dynamics of the particle and of the fluid. Such a method gives a unique handle on the limit of validity of point-particle approximations, which are generally used in applicative situations. Analytical predictions based on such models are compared to result of very well-resolved direct numerical simulations. Evidence is obtained that Faxén corrections reproduce dominant finite-size effects on velocity and acceleration fluctuations for particle diameters up to four times the Kolmogorov scale. The dynamics of particles with larger diameters is consistent with predictions obtained from dimensional analysis.