Physical Development

“Physical development is the physical growth and the development of both gross (e.g. walking) and fine motor (e.g. finger movements) control of the body”

This is a fantastic way in describing physical development in all children as they grow, however there is more that comes into play when considering the physical development in young children.

Children gain control of their bodies at a young age, and this is done through the links that they create with their brains and their bodies so they gain the abilities to move around in the way they wish to.

Gross motor skills will always come before fine motor skills and fine motor skills require higher levels of concentration and patience then what gross motor requires.

There are lots of different milestones children will gain in the first 5 years of their lives that will be important for when they are adults. A great way to explain these milestone and to show you how much children develop physically in their first 5 years of life is through this table.

Age Skill
Physical development by six months He/she will show basic distinctions in vision, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, temperature and perceiving pain. They will also lift their head when on their stomach and possibly show squeals of delight as well as grasp objects and roll over.
Physical development by 12 months They can control their torso and hands, sit without support, crawl and has growing control of legs and feet. He/she may stand or creep across the floor.
Physical development by 18 months Can creep or crawl up stairs, possibly walk, draw lines on paper with crayon and will show growing physical independence.
Physical development by age two They can go up and down steps, run, sit self on chair, use a spoon and fork, turn single pages in a book, kick a ball, attempt to dress themself, build a tower of six blocks, kick a ball and has bowel and bladder control (though they may not care to show it and be toilet trained!).
Physical development by age three They can run well, march, stand on one foot briefly, ride a tricycle, feed themself (with a bit of mess), put on their own shoes and socks (though not tie laces!), unbutton and button.
Physical development by age four They can skip on one foot, cut with scissors, wash and dry their own face, dress themself, throw a ball overhand and other skills to show growing independence.
Physical development by age five They can hop and skip, dress without help, has good balance and smoother muscle action, skate or ride a scooter, print and write simple letters establish whether they are left or right handed. Girls’ fine motor skill development is likely to be about one year ahead of boys.

This table only covers some of the development milestones in regards to physical skills that children will go through from birth to 5 years of age.

The majority in this table that are mentioned are specifically linked to gross motor skills which involved moving the whole body to complete a task such as kicking a ball or skipping with a jump rope. the other main type of physical development that is important to mention is fine motor skills. These skills involve writing and sewing and even help children when it comes to gross motor through throwing a ball or holding a cricket bat with the correct hand grip.

Without fine motor skills children may find it harder to reach milestones in gross motor.

Children acquire gross and fine motor skills in early life through daily activities and games with their peers and also through watching what their teachers or parents or guardians are doing and how they are doing it.

To finish up here are some websites that have different games or activities you can do with children to assist them with their fine and gross motor skills.

Fine Motor

Gross Motor


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