Parents | Raising readers & learners.

Home of Parent & Child Magazine

How Physical Skills Develop, Age by Age

When will your child learn to run, jump, or throw a ball? Check this reference guide.

Learning Benefits

Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Gross Motor Skills

While all children are different, most acquire motor skills along this timeline:

2 to 3 years old:

  • walk up and down stairs; jump off one step 
  • kick a ball 
  • stand and walk on tiptoe 
  • run; dodge

3 to 4 years old:

  • walk backward and forward unselfconsciously; turn and stop well 
  • jump off low steps or objects, but find it hard to jump over objects 
  • begin to ride trikes and pump on swings
  • stand on one foot unsteadily; balance with difficulty on low four-inch balance beam while watching their feet
  • play actively, but tire suddenly

4 to 5 years old:

  • skip unevenly; run well 
  • stand on one foot for five seconds or more; master the low balance beam
  • alternate feet when walking down stairs; judge well when placing feet on climbing structures
  • jump on a small trampoline 
  • show awareness of things in environment (such as cars on the street), but still need supervision and help protecting self
  • have increased endurance in play

5 to 6 years old:

  • walk backward quickly; skip and run with agility and speed
  • incorporate motor skills into games
  • walk a two-inch balance beam easily; jump over objects
  • hop well; jump down several steps; jump rope
  • climb well; coordinate movements for swimming or bike riding
  • show uneven perceptual judgment
  • have high energy levels in play and rarely show signs of fatigue; find inactivity difficult and seek active games and environments

7 years old and up:

  • have increased coordination for catching and throwing
  • be able to participate in active games with rules
  • sequence motor activities, as with gymnastics or shooting baskets
  • have improved reaction time in responding to thrown balls or oncoming vehicles

Find Just-Right Books

The Reading Toolkit