For children, play is not only a way to relax and have fun, but also to establish meaningful social connections and explore this amazing world.

However, you may sometimes notice that your child has difficulty catching the ball or fails to pass it to peers, jumps to the wrong square in a hopscotch game or is easily caught when playing tag. Maybe your child’s messy drawings make it harder for others to guess what they are drawing in Pictionary, or they feel frustrated that they are unable to build a LEGO component, causing their teammates to complain about them. 

On the surface, it may seem that your child is having difficulty with play skills and needs motor development support. However, you may not realize that these challenges can also negatively impact your child’s socio-emotional development, making them feel helpless or depressed, and even leading to social withdrawal if they don’t receive timely and targeted support. 

What can parents do to better understand their child’s motor skills and socio-emotional development?  

One of the typical signs that may indicate a child is struggling with motor skills and social skills development is if they are not reaching the motor milestones for their age. 

To better support parents and children, Jojo Liang, our Occupational Therapist, shares her Motor Development Milestone Checklist (Ages 0-6).

We need motor skills every day throughout our lives. Motor skills are broken up into two categories: gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills refer to movements using large muscle groups (whole arms, feet, body trunk, etc.), such as jumping, running, throwing, catching a ball and standing on one foot. Fine motor skills are movements using small muscle groups (wrists, palms, fingers, etc.), such as drawing, paper cutting, folding and building blocks.


Motor Development Milestone Checklist (Ages 0-6) 

0-6 months

Gross Motor Skills
  • Lifts head when in prone position(2 months)
  • Rolls over(5-6 months)
Fine Motor Skills
  • Brings hands to body center and looks at their hands(3-5 months)

6-12 months

Gross Motor Skills
  • Sits up without support(7-8 months)
  • Crawls with alternate leg and arm movements(8-9 months)
  • Pulls him or herself up to stand and cruises along furniture(10 months)
  • Stands or walks without support(12 months)
Fine Motor Skills
  • Uses radial-digital grasp to hold a block(6-7 months)
  • Uses pincer grasp to pick up tiny beans(8-9 months)
  • Turns thick book pages and scribbles(12 months)

1-2 years old

Gross Motor Skills
  • Walks nicely
  • Walks upstairs with one hand being held
  • Squats to stand independently
  • Stands to sit on a chair independently
  • Runs clumsily
Fine Motor Skills
  • Plays with a plunger
  • Builds using blocks
  • Matches basic shapes (circle, triangle, square) into their corresponding holes

2-3 years old

Gross Motor Skills
  • Walks on tiptoe
  • Walks up and down stairs using a rail
  • Starts to learn to ride a tricycle
  • Jumps up with both feet
  • Balances on one foot for 1-2 seconds
  • Walks along a balance beam
  • Throws a ball or object
  • Kicks a ball
  • Catches a ball with straight arms
Fine Motor Skills
  • Copies straight lines (vertical and horizontal strokes)
  • Strings beads
  • Builds towers with blocks

3-4 years old

Gross Motor Skills
  • Walks up and down stairs without a rail
  • Jumps up, forward, from side to side with both feet
  • Jumps from high platforms with both feet
  • Stands on one leg for several seconds
  • Rides a tricycle independently
  • Throws a bouncing ball to others
Fine Motor Skills
  • Uses a static tripod grasp to hold crayons or pencils (moves with whole arms)
  • Colors inside the lines
  • Copies simple shapes
  • Cuts along the lines (straight lines, arcs)
  • Copies shapes with blocks

4-5 years old

Gross Motor Skills
  • Stands on one leg for 5-8 seconds
  • Is consistently able to jump up with one foot
  • Walks backward along a line
  • Jumps over obstacles
  • Throws a ball to a target 1-1.5 meters away
  • Catches a ball with both hands (ball may touch their bodies)
Fine Motor Skills
  • Uses a dynamic tripod grasp to hold a crayon or pen (moves with wrist and fingers)
  • Can complete a 10-piece puzzle
  • Cuts shapes like triangles and squares

5-6 years old

Gross Motor Skills
  • Able to take turns in group conversations
  • Beginning to demonstrate an understanding of jokes, sarcasm and metaphors
  • Joins in and organizes role play with friends
  • Adapts their language and interaction skills to different people in different social situations with some adult guidance
  • Able to communicate about their own and other people’s feelings
  • Gives more information in conversation to repair a communication breakdown
  • Language is used to establish and maintain social status within peer groups
  • Considers the perspective of others and uses this information for more successful persuasion
Fine Motor Skills
  • Manipulates objects with another hand fixing or holding
  • Copies letters and numbers
  • Writes their name
  • Plays games with paper folding (e.g., origami)
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