Stages of Development

Running is one of the first Fundamental Movement Skills developed and mastered by children. It is also one of the most important skills as it used in so many different types of activities and sports throughout childhood and adulthood.

Teaching tips

Use KIDDO’s teaching vocabulary to help children explore the skill of running. Focus on pumping arms and powerful legs. Start by sitting on a wall and just practicing pumping arms, then try running on the spot with pumping arms and high knees. Provide lots of opportunities and open space to run around in.

  • Arms bent and hands move from ‘hip to lip’
  • Eyes looking straight ahead
  • Land on the front part of the foot
  • High knees
Exploring Running

As the skill of running develops over a relatively short time in early childhood it is important to provide plenty of opportunities for exploration and practice as well as provide feedback to help all children master this important skill. Try asking questions such as:

  • Where can you run to?
  • What do you do with your arms when you run?
  • Where do you look when you run?
  • How fast can you run?
  • Can you run with me?

Encourage children to have fun with running by providing enough space to run around in and joining in activities with them that involve running. You may want to consider packing away portable equipment some days to provide space to run. Try some of the ideas below to encourage children to have fun running.

  • Try rolling hoops along the ground and running after them to catch them before they fall over
  • Run as fast as a cheetah or a jaguar, then explore other animal movements
  • Set-up a running track with a finish line, teach children ‘ready, set, go’
  • Count how long it takes to run to the slide and back
  • Blow bubbles to run after
  • Set up obstacles to run around, in and out of and through
  • Try running on different surfaces and up and down hills

Try playing some of KIDDO’s fun and age-appropriate activities to encourage children to develop and explore the skill of running.

  1. Blast off – run on the spot, gradually getting faster, until blast off when you take off and run as fast as you can to the fence
  2. Here, there, everywhere – run here (to me), over there (to the tree), now run everywhere
  3. Friendly pixie – run to the castle when the pixie drops the wand
  4. What’s the time Mr Wolf – run back to the start line before the wolf catches you!
  5. Builders and bulldozers –run around building up the cones or bulldozing them over

Children are ready to start exploring running as soon as they start walking and might master the skill of running by the age of four to five years.

  • They will start running with short wide strides and arms often held up to assist with balance.
  • This will progress to arms moving in opposition to legs, initially arms will be straight and they will then develop to bend at 90 degrees and the body will have a slight lean forward.
  • The stride will become longer and narrower and take-off and landing will move from being flat footed to the ball (front) of the foot or they may land on their heel and take off on their toe.  



More running activities

Balancing, Running, Jumping, Overarm Throw, Hopping
Support for early learning services
Balancing, Running