Are My Child’s Skills on Track? Developmental Milestones for Pre-School Years

One of the most common queries from parents of pre-school children is wanting to know if their child’s skills are progressing typically. Whilst every child develops at their own rate there is a developmental progression for skills.  The lists below can provide a broad guide for typical milestones for 3, 4, and 5 year olds in relation to gross motor, fine motor and self-care skills.

home games

3 year olds:

  • Gross Motor :
    • Run with coordination
    • Jump with both feet leaving the ground
    • Throw at a target
    • Kick confidently
    • Catch a large ball against their chest
    • Walk on tip toes
    • Manage stairs independently
    • Pedal a tricycle
    • Balance on one foot for short periods e.g. 3 seconds
  • Fine Motor:
    • Complete easy puzzles
    • Grasp a pencil with their thumb and fingers
    • Draw vertical and horizontal lines and circle
    • Make continuous cuts with scissors
    • Build a tower 10 blocks high
    • Open and close containers independently
    • Use tools e.g. spades, fork, hammer, pencils, paint brushes, scissors.
    • Make simple forms with playdough e.g. snake, ball
    • Show a well developed hand preference
  • Self-Care:
    • Toilet independently except for wiping
    • Use a fork and spoon well
    • Spread with a knife
    • Pour a drink
    • Pull on pants
    • Find arm holes on shirts
    • Know front from back when dressing
    • Put on shoes
    • Brush teeth with assistance
    • Wash hands

boy puzzle

4 year olds:

  • Gross Motor:
    • Propel themselves on a swing
    • Walk across a balance beam
    • Walk heel to toe along a line
    • Manage stairs without having to hold on to the railing
    • Balance on one foot for over 5 seconds
    • Complete actions to songs
    • Climb up rungs of ladders
    • Complete a forward roll
    • Ride around obstacles on a tricycle
    • Bounce and catch a ball multiple times
    • Sit with legs crossed
  • Fine Motor:
    • Tripod grasp on pencil
    • Draw a cross, a person with head and 4 recognisable features, a recognisable house
    • Colours mostly in the lines
    • Cut on the line
    • Mange buttons
  • Self-Care:
    • Seldom have toileting accidents
    • Wash and dry hands independently
    • Shoes on correct feet
    • Dress with little assistance
    • Brush teeth
    • Swallow before taking another bite when eating

girl tying her shoes

5 year olds:

  • Gross Motor:
    • Sit with legs cross and upright posture for at least 15 mins
    • Balance for 10 seconds
    • Complete 10 hops on one foot
    • Jump over obstacles
    • Begin to be able to jump with a skipping rope
    • Clutch catch tennis balls
  • Fine Motor:
    • Mature tripod grasp
    • Draw a square and a triangle
    • Include complex details in drawings
    • Write their first name
    • Use squeeze toys e.g. spay bottle, tweezers, water pistols
    • Use keys to unlock and open
    • Cut around square with scissors
    • Spread with a knife
  • Self-Care:
    • Make a snack e.g. simple sandwich or cereal
    • Dress independently including fasteners
    • Independent toileting
    • Use a knife and fork for easy food
    • Blow nose
    • Attempt to tie shoes

If you feel like your child might be displaying difficulties with their gross motor, fine motor or self-care skills, Occupational Therapy can assist to ensure that their skills are developing on track!

kate headshot -Kate Kleinau, Occupational Therapist

Please feel free to ask questions or give me your feedback.  I am always more than happy to answer any emails personally.

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