Physical development in children from 4 to 6

Updated April 17, 2017

Between 4 and 6 years of age, a child is honing fine and gross motor skills like balance, coordination, dexterity, and agility. These skills will allow her to master important concepts during this period, like writing, drawing, physical games and basic self-care. Though some children will master skills at later or earlier times and still fall within the normal range, there is a general progression of abilities during these specific years.

Gross Motor Skills in 4-Year-Olds

By the age of 4, a child can aim, throw, catch and kick a ball, opening up new avenues of play. He can hop on one foot, walk a fine line and change directions when he runs. Strength and muscle coordination in his feet allow him pedal a tricycle confidently and begin to try his hand at climbing.

Fine Motor Skills in 4-Year-Olds

At 4 years old, a child has enough dexterity to button and unbutton a shirt , string beads, and cut with scissors. He can build a block tower that's 10 blocks high and put together a puzzle of about 12 pieces. He can hold a pencil in an adult curved-hand style, as opposed to a clenched fist. He is capable of mastering a few written letters and can draw a basic house and a human figure with four identifiable parts.

Gross Motor Skills in 5-Year-Olds

A 5-year-old is quickly developing her balance and coordination skills. She can skipping rope, stand on one foot, and may be able to ride a bike without stabilisers. She now uses her waist to bend, and can touch her toes without bending her knees. She is also developing speed and agility: She can run faster than ever, and respond quickly to obstacles as she runs.

Fine Motor Skills in 5-Year-Olds

At 5, a child is capable of printing letters and can print her name if taught (although some letters may be backward). She draws pictures with recognisable objects like trees, people and animals. She has developed enough muscle control and precision to cut accurately around a paper figure and to colour neatly within lines. She can dress and undress herself, and can manipulate a fork and knife correctly.

Gross Motor Skills in 6-Year-Olds

At 6, a child has developed greater control and a sense of rhythm. He can move in time to music, may ride a bike confidently without stabilisers and can balance on a narrow beam. He can catch and throw a ball with accuracy and direction and he runs, skips and hops with confidence.

Fine Motor Skills in 6-Year-Olds

A 6-year-old can now write his first and last name, and has more even and clear er letter formation. He can make a simple sandwich and has the dexterity to tie his own shoes. His drawings are involved and detailed, and may even tell a story.

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About the Author

Jessica Martinez is a freelance writer from Clayton, North Carolina. As a homeschooling mom, she enjoys writing about education, child development and family issues. Martinez also enjoys researching and writing about subjects she loves: history, art, interior design, gardening and travel.