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HomeHealth & BehaviorHealth & Nutrition

Play ball

How you can help at home: Practicing catching, bouncing, and kicking skills helps to build coordination and readiness for future sports teams.

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By Amy Kaiser, Consulting Educator

A playground ball is as important to have at home as books, paper and crayons. It is an inexpensive investment and can be found in many discount stores. With this size ball children can practice their catching, bouncing, and kicking skills.

Dreams of superstardom seem to start in second grade. Encouraging and practicing good ball skills helps develop coordination and gets children ready for joining sports teams or clubs. But playing with a ball is no fun by yourself. Parents you need to join in the fun!

What you'll need

  • A playground ball (about 8 ½ inches in diameter)

Here's how to do it

Find a flat surface near your home or at a nearby park and try the following:

  • Bounce and catch back and forth, keeping track of successful catches.
  • Catch in different ways, such as clapping in front of the body or before the catch.
  • Invent your own special catch and give it a name.
  • Bounce the ball with two hands, one hand, switching hands.
  • Find a basketball hoop and try some fancy dribbling moves before shooting.
  • Dribble the ball, touching it with both feet as a soccer player would.
  • Find some friends to play a soccer game. A few old laundry bottles with a little sand or water inside (to give some weight) make great soccer goals.
  • Kickball is still a favorite game that many parents enjoyed as children. Share that game with your own child!

Amy Kaiser is a physical education teacher specialist for the Duluth Public Schools in Minnesota. A stay-at-home mom for several years, she re-entered the education field and has been working as an elementary physical education specialist for the past 12 years. Ms. Kaiser serves on district and state curriculum committees and was recently honored as the 2005 Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year in Minnesota.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

05/17/2007:
"These days, many parents seem to go get 'professional help' to teach their own children from very young age. (I have been asked to 'coach' toddlers tennis as young as three yrs. old!) Soccer, baseball, tennis, basketball, ... even a little talk. Probably a good intention to attempt to teach kids good basics, to start the sport right, or simply too busy or impatient to do it by yourself. I, a tennis teaching pro and parent of two young children, see that not as a business opportunity, but as missed opportunities for those families to develop and grow together. Play some 'ball play' like simple catch-ball, kick-ball, toss & hit, or whatever. You don't have to be 'a coach' but just a playmate. You don't have to play solid 60 minutes, but just 15 minutes. It can be a little frustrated experience for both you and your child, because you may not have good teaching or playing skills, and because you child see you as a parent, not as an instructor. The human dynamics is a big part! of the reason why many parents ask us to teach. Try to work together to have fun together. The struggle, however, will help you both not only get some exercise together, but also grow together and develop the bond as 'a team.' This summer, why don't you try to play with your children before you call to get 'professional help'? I am sure that you both can make one memorable summer together."
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