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Friday, January 13, 2017

Development of Early Ball Skills Part I: Rolling a Ball by Trisha Roberts

How do ball skills typically develop in young children? This topic will be divided and discussed in three parts.

Children of all ages love balls and ball play.  Important skills are learned while manipulating a ball that help overall development. Tummy time can be enhanced by rolling a ball in front of your baby and encouraging him/her to reach for or crawl toward the ball. Visual skills are enhanced as the eyes need to follow the rapid movement of an object in motion. Social interaction, the understanding of cause and effect, and the Fine Motor skills of grasping and release are some of the additional abilities that can develop when playing with a simple ball.

ROLLING A BALL: Children learn to sit alone at about 6 months of age.  Initially they need to use their hands to support their weight, propping forward for balance.  But with time, they are able to stabilize their trunk using their core muscles and free their hands for play.  This is a great time to start holding and rolling a ball.  I recommend using a 4-6 inch diameter ball. (See our FoamBall Set)

Ball Skill Development

I am also enamored with the O'BALL.  There are many products they produce and they are all fantastic for babies and young children, as they are easy to grasp, made of soft plastic, and make fun sounds when manipulated.
I place the baby on the floor in a long sitting position with their legs abducted (legs out front and opened, forming a “V”) I then sit in front of them, mirroring the same position. This helps keep the ball corralled, decreases the distraction and bother of chasing after the ball, and leads to extended play time.

Develop ball skills early in kids

Begin by rolling the ball toward the child and letting them ‘capture’ it with their arms against their body.  I ask them to roll the ball back to me and then physically assist the ball’s return.

We continue taking turns rolling back and forth, assisting as needed.  This is one of the first games of turn taking baby can experience (See our Blog about the early game of Peek-a-Boo) It is a beautiful illustration of sharing and language preparation—I talk, you talk; I get the ball, you get the ball.

Don't miss next week:

Development of Early Ball Skills Part II:  Flinging and Throwing a Ball

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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