Mandy Knaap

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What are the general trends of motor development in a child 4 – 10 years?


4  – 5 years


  • norms of the 4 year old can vary widely therefore interpret with caution
  • weight shift and trunk rotation is still developing
  • total flexion and extension patterns are still evident
  • movement patterns are only briefly sustained
  • a wide base of support is still evident
  • they are able to integrate either upper or lower limbs symmetrically,however not both upper and lower limbs simultaneously
  • children are heavily reliant on input from all the sensory systems


5 – 6 years


  • Weight shift is used actively
  • The abdominal become more active and the lordosis is less evident
  • Trunk rotation and midline crossing is more apparent
  • As the demands of a task increase, there is a tendency to revert back to mass patterns of flexion and extension.  While moving forwards they feed into a flexion pattern and when moving backwards feed into an extension pattern
  • Balance has improved remarkably from 4 years, but they still need to fix distally with hands, feet and mouth
  • Balance has improved remarkably from 4 years, but
  • they still need to fix distally with hands, feet and mouth
  • Upper and lower limbs are integrated in symmetrical patterns.


6 -7 years


  • The ability to sustain movement patterns is established over this period
  • Movements are becoming smoother and more rhythmical while grading is still developing
  • Central stability is maturing
  • Occasional fixing is still observed
  • Balance reactions are more efficient


7 – 8 years


  • Little overflow of movement into the extremities is observed
  • Movements are well dissociated
  • Boys become less familiar with some skills such as gallop and skipping
  • Movements are more rhythmical and grading is more controlled
  • Exposure to specialized activities such as gymnastics or ballet, may affect the way in which the child performs


8 – 9 years


  • Controlled grading, stability and balance resulting in well integrated movement patterns
  • Dissociation has improved remarkably and child more stable
  • Gender differences more obvious
  • More relaxed and moves with ease
  • Skills acquired at previous age bands can be lost and regained, as they are not practiced in play


9 – 10 years


  • Growth spurt during this period affects body image and may influence previously skilled motor patterns
  • Generally fast movers
  • Gender differences continue to be evident