March 28, 2009

Play ball

Do you play ball games with your toddler or preschool child? 
My husband and I play often, and this is usually directed by our 3 year old - he's naturally interested in hitting, throwing and kicking balls. And these games are developing important skills.

Children's ball skills will not develop on their own. Children, even those that are naturally active, need to be introduced to different motor skills. This foundation will give them confidence to participate in a variety of sports when they're older and develop their love of movement and exercise. You don't need to help them develop perfect technique, but you do need to introduce them to the different skills and get them practising. But if you'd like to know what to say to help your child learn a better technique, try looking up the skill cues.

The ball skills that children need to learn are -
hitting with hand
hitting with bats

Often it is easier to start practising these skills with something that moves more slowly than a ball, for example, a balloon. This gives your child more time to think about where they should be and what they have to do. You can also experiment with beanbags and different sizes and textures of balls.

Here are some simple activities to help develop ball skills -

With babies
Roll the ball between you
Roll the ball and run to overtake it

With Toddlers
Tap a balloon with hands, head, kick it with your foot.
Hit balloon with a bat (make a simple one with a paper plate and a stick)
Play balloon volleyball
Throw balls into a laundry basket or bucket (gradually move further away from the basket)
Throw balls at a target drawn on a wall
Roll a ball through an obstacle course
Roll a ball to knock down skittles (you can make them with plastic soft drink bottles filled with a small amount of water)
Kick a ball to a target
Bounce the ball

With Older Toddlers/Preschoolers
Hit at a ball suspended in a stocking
Hit balls with a plastic bat. Set up some mini golf holes with containers turned on their sides.
Play balloon tennis
Bounce and catch the ball back and forth

I'm sure you and your child can invent many more activities to practise ball skills. If you'd like more information on teaching your child how to catch, this is a useful article.


© iStockphoto/mammamaart


PlanningQueen said...

Play of any kind is great, but I have found that my boys really do love anything that involves kicking or throwing a ball.

Rosey said...

Hey great post! My 3yo son also LOVES anything to do with being outside and sports so I am forever looking for new things to try with balls. Thanks. :-)