There aren’t too many kids that would say no to playing with a ball. Whether it is throwing or kicking a ball around, they provide hours of simple fun and in many cases these days, much-needed physical activity!
As well as teaching your child important skills such as throwing and catching, dribbling, kicking, and aiming for a target, the benefits of ball play are also essential in life:
- Introduction to sport and extracurricular activities. Getting kids excited for sports and activity at an early age is vital for an active, healthy lifestyle.
- Hand-eye coordination. For a child it could be as simple as putting blocks on top of one another or putting a lid on a box, but the development of this skill is critical for many aspects in life.
- Gross and Fine Motor Skills. The development of muscles is important at an early age, as this will help your child through many milestones such as (first, holding their head up), learning to reach for and grasp objects, walk, skip, jump, run and more as these skills become more refined with age and practice!
- Timing. There’s only so many times a child will receive a ball in the face before they realize they should have their hands up or arms outstretched quicker. Timing is one lesson that children learn fast so they don’t miss out on catching that ball!
- Prediction. After many hours of fun and practice, children will also figure out which way a ball will bounce, or how quickly a ball will roll. There are balls of so many shapes, sizes and textures – and with enough ball play time, your child will begin to anticipate the ball’s movements – direction and speed.
- Force. Knowing how much strength is needed to throw or kick a ball is not an easy judgment for kids. But with plenty of practice (and building of muscle strength), they will learn how to apply the right amount of force at the right time.
- Good sportsmanship. Having patience, taking turns and having nice manners are all traits that we want our kids to have, and if they learn these from you at an early age, it will be ingrained in them for life!
- Use the opportunity of ball play to get outside for some fresh air and healthy exercise for you and your child. A clear mind will be more productive and have improved focus.
Easy ball games to play with young children
- Starting simple, roller ball is an easy one for small children. Sit opposite your toddler and (telling them what you are going to do every step of the way) roll the ball to them and encourage them to reach for the ball and catch it. Then ask them to roll the ball back to you (they might try to throw it, so show them how to keep the ball on the ground and ‘push’).
- Throwing and catching This takes a little more coordination, so look out for signs of frustration from your child and assure them that it just takes practice!
- Keep it in the air . With a balloon or other soft ball, try to keep the ball from touching the ground.
- Bowling . Using plastic bottles as skittles, roll the ball and see how many you can knock over.
- In the goal. Throw the ball into a hoop or bucket (I use a plastic washing basket), moving further back to make it more challenging.
These are just a few games to start you off – I’d imagine that by the time your child is old enough, they will be telling YOU what games to play!