Children of all ages need to work on building their body’s balance because it contributes to being able to grow and develop. For example, learning to stand in a straight line without moving takes balance, as does walking without swaying from side to side. It is a developmental skill that begins in a child’s infancy through sitting up, crawling and walking, and it takes time and practice to develop.
“Without working on a child’s coordination and balance, it becomes very hard for them to sit still and makes things like learning to hop on one foot or to ride a bike more difficult.”
So how do teachers and parents help children learn this valuable skill? Well, it is through patience and practice. Here are a few ways that you can help children of various ages build balance.
This age group is where it is most critical that children begin to explore their balance and work on building muscles to support their balance. Here are a few tips:
- Help young infants to sit up by placing your hand lightly on their back for support – eventually you will be able to remove your hand.
- Encourage them to crawl by putting items just out of reach so children must use their bodies to get to the item. You can even place a child in the crawling position and lightly hold them to support the movement
- Once the child is able to pull themselves up on things, it’s a great time to give them a hand and help encourage balance while standing—eventually helping them walk and move more freely.
This age group is on the move, so it is important to help them learn how to stand still or sit without moving side to side. With a shorter attention span, this can be more difficult, so here are a few simple activities to help:
- Have toddlers stand in a straight line, spread out from their classmates. Then, dismiss them from their seats one by one. Some children will have to stand still longer than others. Switch up the order each time do you do this.
- While they are sitting in a chair, have each child lift one leg up and try to remain still. This exercise will help them work on balance and core strength, which enhances their balance.
- Place tape around the room or use a balance beam. Then, have children take turns walking around in a straight line. You can introduce curvy ones as their skills improve.
At this age children are really on the move and it is important to give them games and tools to help facilitate movement while continuing to build balance and core strength. Here are 3 ideas that you can try:
- Play Freeze Tag. This is an easy way to get kids moving but then when they are tagged, it forces them to freeze and hold a pose.
- Build an obstacle course. Children will love having various paths to follow and tasks to do while working on their balance. It creates a fun way for them to learn a valuable skill without thinking too much about it.
- Bike Riding. This can be done with tricycles first while children get the hang of their body’s movements on a bike. Then they can move to a balance bike where they use their feet to gain momentum but also pick up their feet to balance. This will help them progress to a bicycle when they are ready.
With any of these ages or stages of teaching balance, remember there is no rush. While a child might be considered a toddler, they might need more help with balance while walking. Or an infant may need to spend more time just learning to sit up. While it is important to move through these stages, there is no correct or standard timeline.
What different activities do you do with your children to help encourage balance? Check out of top 3 favorite balance products: