Child Motor Skills Development

Child Motor Skills Development

In preschool-age, the child refines the motor skills that it already acquired as a baby and thus gains greater independence.

Motor Skills by Years of Age

2nd Year

During the 2nd year of life, the child’s motor skills continue to develop.

This can be observed through:

  • The child walks freely
  • Rarely falls
  • Sits on a chair alone
  • Shoots and throws the ball
  • Arranges toy cubes
  • Plays with various objects
  • Browses through books
  • Eats on its own

Already in the 2nd year, besides toys and other items, the child should be given paper and crayons. But it is pointless to look for a certain meaning in a small child’s drawing. It should not be inquired what it is, because the child is still developing and understanding the drawing concept.

The young child does not care what will be the final result of its drawing. It draws in order to draw, because it causes pleasure, not wanting to draw something specific.

3rd Year

After the age of 3, the child is already able to:

  • Run
  • Speeding and slowing down with ease
  • Climbing stairs without any help
  • Jumping from a higher position and landing on both feet

By that time, the child can already make a toy tower of 9-10 cubes, unlike a 2-year-old who manages to arrange only 6-7 cubes at a time.

When it draws, the lines on paper are more defined. According to Biber’s B. drawing test for child motor skills, there are 5 stages in development for children at the age from the end of 2nd to the end of the 4th year :

  • Draws and puts dots
  • Lines are more specific
  • With the lines closes a certain surface, i.e. draws a certain object
  • Aligns multiple characters’ side by side
  • Gives the drawing some content

4th Year

At the age of 4, the child makes significant progress on certain motions across the motor skills. In this period the already mentioned principle of individualization is emphasized.

For example, in the 2nd and 3rd year of life, it can only push the ball in front of it and roll it with the help of certain movements of the limbs or the whole body. Now the child is able to swing its hand vigorously and throw the ball independently of the torso.

Simultaneously to individualization, movements are more successfully integrated into a harmonious whole, so that the child becomes more involved in performing more complex motor activities. It reflects the principle of integration in its psycho-physical development.

5th Year

For a 5-year-old, it is characteristic to achieve balance and movement safety. During this period the fine movements of the small muscles of the arm are defined.

Gesell A. states that at this age, a child can collect a dozen balls for 20 seconds and put them in a bottle one at a time.

At this stage of development, the child draws a human contour in such a way that parts of the human body can be recognized.

6th Year Onward

The older a child is, the more his motor activities are the result of exercise, and less as a result of maturation of its nervous system and muscle.

However, child growth and physical fitness will for a long time be an important prerequisite for acquiring complex motor skills.

Difference in Motor Skills Between Boys and Girls

The boys already in the early childhood learn more motor skills than girls of the same age. But Bayley N.’s research shows that there is no inherent difference of motor skills in sexes.

Therefore, it seems that boys’ greater agility in movement is due to the fact that most of the parents encourage boys to practice and improve motor skills than they do with the girls.

Noticeable Signs of Progress

The motor skills of a very young child are still undetermined, as the child grows up, its movements become defined. They are increasingly serving a specific, conscious purpose.

Thus, a 2-year-old child moves the wheeled toy around the room with no clear purpose, а 4-year-old in this game already simulates driving a car, train, and the like.

At the end of the 2nd year, and especially during the 3rd year, the child can gradually learn to dress and undress itself. In the beginning, it does that only partially, performing simpler operations on the way of dressing. Even at age 5, a child willfully masters the skill of dressing.

Doing the buttons and tying the shoelaces will remain a problem they will eventually overcome, as these activities require more sophisticated activity on the small muscles of the arm.

Practicing self-dressing should not be forced. It takes a lot of patience and systematic encouragement to master the technique.

Child’s Independence in Daily Routines

For proper mental development, it is especially important for the child to acquire motor skills as early as possible to perform those activities that meet his or her personal needs.

It then acquires hygienic and cultural habits, such as self-nutrition, self-execution of physiological needs, dressing, and so on. These are activities that greatly contribute to the child’s independence and thus to the growing self-esteem that is one of the main drivers of his emotional maturity.

To get your child used to bathe regularly, washing their hands and teeth, as well as acquiring all other hygienic and cultural habits, a positive daily example from the parents is important. If parents practice healthy and cultured behavior, the child will imitate it without difficulty, almost unknowingly adopting new habits.

As a child grows up, it performs various activities faster and uses more and more energy to perform them. Individual differences among children occur when performing activities. The speed of movement depends on the child’s temperament.

A calm, phlegmatic child cannot be expected to move as vigorously as his or her most energetic peer. Extrovert children are usually faster and more experienced than introverted children. Boys at all periods of growth show greater muscle strength than girls.

Influential Factors

This review of early childhood motor development shows that motor skills improvement is influenced by several factors:

Innate traits

There are children who perform certain skills easier and more fully than others. The reason is the natural talent for certain motor activities, which is later manifested in various human motor abilities, even with above-average sporting achievements.


Healthy, normally developed children mature faster and better at shaping motor skills than their inferior peers, such as rickets and children with some growth retardation.

Health status

A damaged brain during intrauterine life or during childbirth can significantly impede or even completely disrupt the normal development of motor skills.

Thus, children with mental disabilities regularly display clumsiness, slowness, unformed movements, and lack of fine movements in their motor skills, which makes their motor skills limited.

Maturation of the nervous system and musculature allows for the activity of certain activities, and exercise stimulates the maturation of neural structures in the child’s body.

Growth, exercise opportunities, and their use are correlated and interdependent.


When shaping the motor, the child should not be left alone to itself and its innate impulses.

The parent’s task is to constantly encourage them in these activities, give them the opportunity to practice them freely, reward the child with every success in acquiring skills and encourage them when they fail or hesitate before certain difficulties. The parents should show the child how to do the action, give them instructions, and set an example for themselves.


The healthy development of motor skills has a positive effect on shaping the psyche.

Not limiting a child’s physical activity gives the child a sense of security and self-esteem, increasing its stability, boldness, calmness, and pleasure.

A well-developed motor enables the child to get to know its world more easily, to gain a rich experience in the continuous expansion of its perception of space.

Motor skills are a powerful stimulus for activating and shaping latent intellectual abilities, facilitating contact with other children, and contributing to social maturity.