Your little one is learning important physical skills as he gains muscle control, balance, and coordination. He will always try to do more and more and, once you see he starts walking, physical activity and improvement of motor skills will keep increasing. Each new skill lets him progress to the next one, building on a foundation that leads to more complicated physical tasks. This is a result of his muscle strength and a sign of his developmental process.
You can take advantage of your little one’s natural desire to keep moving and help him establish activity patterns that will contribute to his development, while also laying a foundation for them to remain active later on.
Today we will focus on one major skill related to playing with balls: kicking.
What you might see
Your little one has probably just started to walk, and you can swear you’ve just seen him kick a rubber ball. This is very likely. Around his second birthday, he will have enough hand-eye coordination to be able to do this.
Kicking progresses gradually. Around 14 months of age, he will able to hold a ball in his hands and he’ll be able to kick it probably around a month later. Later on, he will be capable of swinging his leg to kick it, while his coordination skills keep improving. At around 18 months, he might be able to run towards a ball and kick it, and, at 26 months, he will be able to kick a moving ball. One day you’ll see him accomplish this and aim it with a lot more force, direction, and arm and legs coordination.
What does he need to develop this skill?
Kicking implicates much more than just strength in his tiny limbs, he needs to improve more things. Let us show you the wonders of kicking!
- Before he is able to kick a ball, your son must’ve developed basic cause and effect thinking. Kicking for the first time is like doing an experiment; he will need to observe what’s happening and what’s making the ball move.
- He will also need to have mastered balance to a degree in which he can stand on one foot for at least a few seconds
- He will need to develop enough coordination and spatial awareness to calculate where the ball is located and when he needs to move his leg to kick it. The first few times he might miss it, but little by little he will get there, until one day he will aim perfectly.
It is recommended for your little one not to be inactive for more than an hour, except when sleeping. Now that he is starting to develop his ball skills, much more activities will be available for you two to take on together.
How to help him?
- To motivate him, put him in contact with balls. Have some around his play area or even try to roll a ball towards him.
- Choose a lightweight ball, so he is able to push it back with his foot. You can even take some of the air out, so it is easier for him to kick it.
- Have a game in which he can practice standing on one foot. It will contribute to work on his balance and the strengthen his muscles.
- You can have some barefoot activities, so he develops his feet sensitivity.
- You can also play games that contribute to his coordination. Have him repeat your clapping patterns or walk on a straight line. This can contribute to spatial awareness as well, building up the necessary skills for kicking.
- Demonstrate kicking yourself or show him how someone else kicks a ball, so he can imitate the movement.
- When he is able to do it, cheer!
Acquisition of ball skills can be so fun! Your child will move on to catching and throwing as well. This will be a great opportunity to keep him busy with physical activities while having fun. Later on, he’ll learn about teamwork and discipline! Take the time to play with him.