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Lisa R. Tebo, OTR/L, ATP, Director

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The term "developmental milestones" refers to the sequence of new skills you can expect most children to follow in his or her development.
They form the foundation or building blocks for future motor, cognitive and academic development.  While most children follow the same sequence in their development, different children progress at different rates.  Therefore, your child may not be "delayed" in his development simply because another child his age can do something that he cannot.  Here are some general guidelines to follow for preschool and early elementary ages.


  • Walks on a straight line
  • Balances briefly on one foot
  • Rides a tricycle
  • Throws and catches a large ball
  • Begins development of in-hand manipulation
  • Imitates simple block designs
  • Builds tower of 6 blocks
  • Strings large beads
  • Turns pages of book one by one
  • Rolls, pounds, squeezes, and pulls playdough
  • Uses mechanical toys
  • Beginning development of hand preference (switching still occurs)
  • Grasps crayon with palm, thumb and fingers (palm down)
  • Copies horizontal/vertical lines and circles
  • May write "pretend" name with shapes
  • Cuts paper into two pieces (without following line)
  • Completes puzzles with 3 - 4 pieces
  • Unscrews screw-top lid
  • Turns rotating handles/knobs
  • Feeds self with spoon
  • Drinks from a cup
  • Dresses self with assistance
  • Takes turns
  • Engages in imaginative play
  • Matches concrete objects to pictures
  • Sorts objects by shape or color
  • Understands concept of "two"


  • Walks backwards
  • Jumps forward several times without falling
  • Jumps on 1 foot
  • Stands on 1 foot for 5 seconds
  • Walks up and down stairs, alternating feet
  • Kicks ball
  • Throws ball overhand
  • Catches a bounced ball
  • Stacks 10 blocks
  • Makes balls, snakes and objects with playdough
  • Holds crayon in 3 or 4 fingers with dominant hand
  • Writes with whole arm
  • Engages in pretend writing
  • Copies a cross, may imitate a square
  • Draws person with at least 3 parts
  • Draws recognizable pictures
  • May begin to write some capital letters
  • Cuts with scissors along a straight line
  • Beginning to turn paper with non-dominant hand when cutting
  • Buttons/unbuttons
  • Feeds self using spoon with little spilling
  • Attempts use of fork
  • Pours from small pitcher
  • Dresses and undresses self
  • Correctly names some colors
  • Understands concept of counting, counts by rote
  • Follows 3-part command
  • Understands concept of same/different


  • Stands on one foot for 10 seconds or longer
  • Hops on 1 foot
  • Somersaults
  • Gallops or skips
  • Hand dominance clearly established
  • Uses combination of wrist and finger movements to write
  • Draws person with a body
  • Copies a square and imitates a triangle
  • Prints letters and numbers through imitation
  • Prefers capital letters
  • Strings written letters together to write "pretend" words
  • Prints first name
  • Grasps scissors correctly and cuts out a square
  • Uses glue with supervision
  • Dresses/undresses without help
  • Attempts to tie shoes
  • Cares for own toilet needs
  • Independently washes face and hands, brushes teeth
  • Uses spoon, fork and knife
  • Counts 10 or more objects accurately
  • Correctly names at least 4 colors
  • Beginning concept of time
  • Identifies body parts
  • Begins development of spatial concepts


  • Masters bicycle riding
  • Can sit for 15 - 20 minutes for an activity
  • Begins to play organized sports
  • Skips, alternating feet
  • Completes basic jumping jacks
  • Recognizes/discriminates upper and lower case letters
  • Begins to focus on mechanics of letter formation
  • Begins to improve spatial organization of letters and numbers within lines
  • Develops proficiency in printing letters, although reversals are still common
  • Can copy diamonds and simple multi-part designs
  • Draws person with at least 6 body parts
  • Cuts out complex shapes
  • Constructs using pegboards and fine manipulatives
  • Masters shoe tying
  • Manages most clothing fasteners including buttons, snaps, zippers
  • Bathes self (with supervision)
  • Counts to 100
  • Knows right from left
  • Adds detail to drawings (attention to appropriate color still inconsistent)
  • Ocular motor skills not yet fully developed

AGES 7 and 8

  • Can sit for 20 minutes and focus on one activity
  • Coordinates multiple motor skills simultaneously
  • Jumps rope
  • Writing now becomes more refined and smaller
  • Child can now focus on writing content rather than the physical process of letter formation
  • Introduction of cursive slows down writing process
  • May see eye strain with increased school work
  • Most letter and number reversals disappear
  • Able to use ruler and simple tools
  • Follows a daily schedule
  • Can work in small groups
  • Demonstrates creative problem solving
  • Applies understanding of space to 3-D objects


EdExtras,; US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

Misunderstood Minds – Basics of Writing.

Therapy Skill Builders – Fine Motor Development 0 – 6 years.

Kids Can Do, Inc.  Fine Motor Milestones in Child Development.

ABCs of Child Development.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Learn the Signs.

Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Birth – 5.   Steven P. Shelov and Robert E. Hannemann.  American Academy of Pediatrics. 1998.

Developmental Milestones: A Guide for Parents.  Joyce Powell and Charles A Smith, National Network for Child Care.  Kansas State University.