Too many 4-year-old kids who can’t crawl: study

A British study finds that nearly a third of four- and five-year-olds cannot do basic physical movements like crawling or standing on one leg. And the deficiency seems to be linked to poor academic achievement.

The UK newspaper Daily Mail summarizes the findings in a recent article:

Sixty children in reception classes at a school in the West Midlands were given 14 short tests, including asking them to balance on one leg for three seconds and crawl a short distance.

The study found 30 per cent of pupils showed signs of physical immaturity and a further 42 per cent some signs of delays in development.

Some children even appeared not to have lost primitive baby reflexes, such as their arms and head extending when their head moves to the side.

Pete Griffin, who administered the study with the Institute of Neuro-Physiological Psychology, says children aren’t developing physically because they’re spending more time in front of screens. He also believes parents are driving and carrying their kids everywhere, noting that babies who don’t spend time on the floor don’t get opportunities to try things like crawling and rolling.

“The main issue is that children don’t have the same kind of physical challenge and upbringing they might have had 40 or 50 years ago,” says Griffin.

Researchers also found that of the children who placed in the bottom half for physical maturity, 77 per cent fell into the bottom groups for academic ability. Griffin suggests this is because children who spend their early years watching TV are not able to concentrate when it comes time to learn and study.

4 responses to “Too many 4-year-old kids who can’t crawl: study

  1. Where is the study?! I agree with the previous person commenting. Those links “Blaine Kyllo” sent are not links to any academic study, just some guys “observation” at his clinic.

    1. Hi Tara, this article was originally published in 2012. I was unable to find a link to the original text of the study, possibly because it is no longer online. I did find many other studies, however, that also found links between excessive screen time, developmental delays and lack of school readiness in young children. Here is a link to one recent study on the topic from Alberta: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2722666

  2. Please link to the study mentioned! I keep seeing this story here and there, but no one has linked the the “British study” in question. Data, evaluation procedures, and individual history matter here. This is useful information for pediatric therapists like myself, but I need a real study to look at before I draw any conclusions.

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