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Developmental milestones
A teacher teaches a young boy
                  how to write

Children's development is monitored against key development skills called milestones which usually appear at around the same age in most children.


Babies and young children have regular checks by a health visitor to make sure they are developing as expected and meeting
the milestones.


A child who has a long delay in reaching one or more of the milestones may be at risk of developmental delay and will need to see their health visitor or GP.


There are developmental milestones for each area of development. The activity on the following page takes motor (muscle control) development as an example.

Think about one area of development

Motor skills are often divided into gross motor skills, (such as running, jumping, throwing and catching a ball) and fine motor skills (such as drawing or colouring pictures, doing up buttons, etc.).


Think of a boy and a girl you know who are about four or five years old. What can they do that shows their gross and fine motor skill development?


How do they compare with the motor milestones noted in the pages that follow?

Physical and motor development milestones (age 4)
A teacher helps a young boy to
  • Can catch and kick a large ball;
  • Can jump with both feet off the floor;
  • Attempts to get dressed and undressed;
  • Can copy an adult drawing each of these separately:
    • A cross +
    • A horizontal line ___
    • A vertical line |
  • Can do up and undo buttons.

(Kirby, 2011)

Physical and motor development milestones
(age 6)
  • Can balance on one leg for at least 3 seconds;
  • Can ride a bike;
  • Can bounce and catch a small ball 4-6 times;
  • Can tie shoelaces;
  • Can draw a person;
  • Can write their first and last name.

(Kirby, 2011)

Physical and motor development milestones
(age 8)
  • Can pour a drink without spilling it;
  • Can bathe themselves;
  • Enjoys being physically active for at least 30 minutes a day;
  • Can use a ruler.

(Kirby, 2011)

Find out more

Kirby, A., Davies, R., Bryant, A. (2005-11) Do teachers know more about specific learning difficulties than general practitioners? British Journal of Special Education.