Third graders are ready and eager to learn about physical education. While they continue to test their skills, they also display an intense curiosity as to how it all works, and they delight in their newfound physical abilities. Here are some examples of third grade movement milestones:

Motor Skills

Third graders like to move with purpose as their movement skills improve. Your child should be able to:

  • put together a variety of locomotor and non-locomotor movements to form coordinated movements (skip, skip, spin, slide, slide, catch)
  • demonstrate coordination (bounce, kick, throw, or catch a ball or strike an object with an implement in a fluid environment)
  • use both locomotor and non-locomotor movement sequences in a game environment, such as playing softball (run, jump stop, turn and pass, slide, catch, pivot)
  • self-assess movement performance and request assistance when needed


This is a time when students begin to make the connection between fitness and health and realize that they have power in determining their own health level. Your child should be able to:

  • understand the health related components of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and body composition and provide examples to improve each
  • informally self-assess current health related fitness levels
  • possess enough upper body muscular strength to support bodyweight (handstands, crab walks, cartwheels)
  • participate in activities that require extended periods of moderate to intense physical activities and monitor fatigue
  • perform between 5 and 13 or 6 and 15 push-ups depending on age
  • perform 1 to 2 pull ups
  • perform between 6 and 20 or 9 and 22 curl ups (crunches) depending on age

Social Development

Third graders develop a knack for working together, and most are problem-solvers. Your third grade child should be able to:

  • lead or follow during a small group activity in order to solve a challenge
  • understand general rules of etiquette and follow them consistently
  • informally assess peers and provide positive feedback for improvement
  • be willing to receive feedback from peers and make necessary adjustments
  • recognize when someone is being excluded and take the initiative to include them
  • select activities for both enjoyment and their health related benefits

Third grade is a wonderful time: right in the middle of elementary school, third grade students possess a unique mix of both ability and wonder. They can often be amazed at their own strength and agility, as their bodies become bigger, faster, and more skilled at complex movements. Third graders will seek out advanced challenges, so make sure to provide them in a safe environment so you can watch them as they test their physical limits.