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Physical Milestones of a Preschooler: 4 Things to Check

    Physical Milestones of a Preschooler: 4 Things to Check

    One of the most exciting things about being a parent is that you get to see your child do new things almost every day. But, these “new things,” which refer to new skills, are more than just a source of excitement. By checking if they can do a set of things at a specific age, you can gauge if their growth and development are on track. To help you monitor your little one, here are the physical milestones of a preschooler.

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    What are Physical Milestones?

    Before we list down the set of tasks your child might be able to do once he or she reaches preschool, let’s first briefly define “physical milestones.”

    Physical milestones are the actions and movements your child can do with their growing body. Naturally, younger children start developing their gross motor skills first (using bigger muscles) before becoming more coordinated, and eventually developing their fine motor skills (using smaller muscles).

    To help put things in perspective, do you remember the big (jumbo) pencil?

    physical milestones of a preschooler

    Young children learning to write use bigger pencils because they can only grip them with all their 5 fingers (gross motor). “Forcing” them to hold the pencil correctly using just 3 fingers (fine motor) will only hurt them as their little bones cannot do that yet.

    Keeping that in mind, below are the physical “tasks” that most preschoolers can do.

    The Physical Milestones of a Preschooler

    Starting at the age of 3, most preschoolers can:

    Do more with their legs and balance well

    As a parent, the first thing you might notice in the physical milestones of a preschooler is that they are better with their legs now. They can run easily, climb well, and pedal a 3-wheeled bike. Moreover, they have pretty much mastered climbing up and down the stairs using one foot on each step.

    Eventually, at 4 years old, they might be able to hop on one foot and balance for about 2 seconds. By 5, they can jump and balance on one foot for about 10 seconds or longer.

    Engage in arts and crafts better

    At 3 years old, your child may be able to copy a circle using a pencil or crayon. However, don’t expect that they’ll hold it correctly just yet.

    At 4, they might be able to hold it correctly, but it’s possible that they may need more practice. From simply copying a circle, they will eventually draw shapes and persons with several parts. Afterward, they begin writing letters and numbers. Preschoolers can now also use scissors under supervision.

    For these reasons, arts and crafts are great for the growth and development of a preschooler. Additionally, handedness is established during this stage. If your child prefers to use their left hand, please don’t try to “correct” the situation.

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    Play more actively with a ball and jump ropes

    Another part of the physical milestones of a preschooler is they can play well with toys such as balls and jump ropes. At 4, they can catch a ball passed or bounced to them. At 5, they can already jump rope.

    Since preschoolers tend to be active in playing, take some time to practice these safety rules at home.

    Be more independent

    And finally, preschool is when they start working on their independence in some tasks such as eating, dressing, and going to the toilet.

    At 4 years old, they might be able to pour water in their glass (but maybe with minimal spilling) and mash their food. At 5, they might be able to use utensils.

    Starting at 3, they begin dressing themselves until they can work on buttons. At 5, they might be able to tie the laces of their shoes.

    During the day, they might manage to go to the toilet on their own.


    When checking if your child is hitting the preschooler physical milestones included here, remember that they have their own time doing things. In case they cannot do something at a certain age yet, it doesn’t mean that they have a developmental delay or problem. Perhaps, they just need more time and practice.

    If you are worried about the growth and development of your preschooler, consult a pediatrician.

    Learn more about Parenting a Preschooler here.


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    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Growth & Development: 3-5 Years https://www.rileychildrens.org/health-info/growth-development-3-5-years Accessed January 27, 2021 Developmental Milestones https://www.chop.edu/primary-care/developmental-milestones Accessed January 27, 2021 Physical and Cognitive Developmental Milestones1 https://www.communities.qld.gov.au/resources/childsafety/practice-manual/physical-cognative-milestones.pdf Accessed January 27, 2021 https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/pdf/checklists/all_checklists.pdf Accessed January 27, 2021 Developmental Milestones: Fine Motor Skills and Visual Motor Skills https://www.choc.org/userfiles/file/Rehab-Developmental%20Milestones%20final.pdf Accessed January 27, 2021
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    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Feb 21, 2021
    Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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