A lot of us wonder when our children should start doing which physical things. The sporting parents may want their little star to join in the fun, which is great. These gross motor guidelines can help keep the expectations realistic. There is a lot of variation, as few children develop in a linear way. Some children may catch a ball brilliantly, but may be slower to climb the stairs for instance. This is a guideline only. If your child has a very real struggle with all things age-appropriate, a little input may be needed.
Standing on one leg
Test both legs.
~ 3 Years: 5-6 seconds
~ 4 Years: 7-9 seconds
~ 5 Years: 10-12 seconds
~ 6 Years: 13-16 seconds
~ 7-8 Years: Longer than 20 seconds
The difference between the dominant and the non-dominant leg is greatest between 4-5 years. This difference becomes progressively smaller after that. At ages 3-4 there may be a difference of up to 5 seconds between the dominant and non-dominant legs.
Kicking a soccer ball
~ 15 Months: Ignore the request to kick, throw the ball instead
~ 18 Months: Do not kick, but rather just walk right up to and against the ball
~ 24 Months: Try to kick, walk up to the ball and start to lift leg in an effort to kick
~ 36 Months: Can kick a ball hard
~ Children younger than 7-8 may choose to kick standing on their dominant leg and kicking with their non-dominant leg. This is because their balance on the dominant leg is better.
~ Over the age of 8 most children choose to kick with their dominant leg, standing on the non-dominant one. This is because the difference in balance between the two legs are very small by then. The dominant leg becomes the stronger leg and more able to execute precision movements.
Hopping on one leg
Test both legs.
~ 3 Years: Less than 5 hops. Very difficult. Sometimes they can only manage 1 hop, and sometimes only with one leg.
~ 4 Years: 5-8 hops
~ 5 Years: 9-10 hops
~ 6 Years: 10-20 hops
~ 7 Years: More than 20 hops
Important that the child tries to hop in one place, and more on the ball (front) of the foot; not on the whole foot.
Climbing stairs (around 4-5 stairs up and down)
~ 13 Months: Crawl up 2-3 stairs
~ 15 Months: Crawl forwards up the stairs and crawl back down feet first (backwards)
~ 18 Months: Walk up the stairs when holding someone’s hand. Place both feet on the same stair. Crawl down backwards feet first or slide down on bum.
~ 21 Months: Walk up holding the banister, placing both feet on each stair. Walk down holding on to the banister, wall or mom’s hand placing both feet on each step.
~ 2 Years: Walking up and down holding on to banister, placing both feet on each stair.
~ 3 Years: Starting to alternate legs on the stairs, still holding on for support. Or, placing both feet on the same stair without support.
~ 3⅟₂ Years: Walking up with alternating legs without support.
~ 4 Years: Walking down the stairs with alternating legs without support.
~ 4-5 Years: Running up and down the stairs.
Jumping from a height and landing on both feet
~ 2-3 Years: Jump from the bottom stair and maintain balance upon landing
~ 3⅟₂-4 Years: Jump from the second stair
~ 6 Years: Jump from the third stair
~ 8 Years: Jump from the fourth stair
Catching a soccer ball
Throwing the ball straight to the child.
~ 3 Years: Catch the ball using both arms and body
~ 4⅟₂ Years: Catch the ball with both hands against the body
~ 5⅟₂ Years: Catch the ball with both hands, not against the body;
~ 5⅟₂ Years: Child bounces the ball and catches it again in both hands
~ 6 Years: Child throws the ball up in the air and catches it again
Catching a tennis ball
~ 5⅟₂ Years: Catch the ball in both hands, when it bounced once
~ 7 Years: Catch the ball with one hand, no bounce
Throwing a ball
~ 15 Months: Baby lets go of objects when in the high chair or throws things on the floor (food). Baby’s eyes follow the object as it travels. Developmentally this is an important visual skill. It forms the basis for visual tracking skills for reading later on.
~ 18 Months: Throw an object while standing. This is an immature forwards pushing motion as opposed to a proper throw.
~ 3-4 Years: Adopt a definite throwing stance. Balance is still lacking.
~ 5 Years: Weight shift onto non-dominant leg. Release the ball with dominant arm in full extension (straight elbow)
~ 18-20 Months: Know where eyes, nose, ears, feet are.
These are screening tests for gross motor proficiency. A paediatric physiotherapy or occupational therapy assessment is indicated if children continue to not meet their milestones, despite gentle parental input and encouragement.