When I learned my son was a little behind in the catching and throwing department, I shrugged it off. Ball skills will come. After all, everyone can throw a ball, and who cares if the catching isn’t always perfect?
So I resisted.
In elementary school, however, the kids don’t just play on the playground, swing, dig in the sand, and chase each other. They play ball games. Lots of them. And those who can’t are left behind.
So we started incorporating ball skills into games that I could stand to play. Thinking games. Guessing games. Counting games.
For example, in his favorite guessing game, he chooses an animal, and I ask questions. So we inserted a ball into our conversational back-and-forth. Sort of like this:
- Son: Ok, I’ve thought of an animal (throws ball to Mom)
- Mom: (catch) Is it prehistoric? (throws ball to son)
- Son: (catch) Yes! (throws ball to Mom)
- Mom: (catch) Is it a dinosaur? (throws ball to son)
- Son: (catch) Yes!
And so on. The same thing can be done with counting even numbers, or odd numbers. Or colors. Or favorite foods. The list is endless.
A medium-sized ball is good to start with… not too small, but not too big, either. Red rubber kickballs are great. If they’re too hard to hold, let out a little air. Squishy or inflatable balls are good, too, although they don’t bounce.
Performing multiple tasks like this can improve processing speed. Thinking and talking while simultaneously catching and throwing a ball can help your child’s brain to grow, learn and make connections. And it’s fun.
Our son went from being in the lowest 10% for processing speed to average in just a few years. I attribute some of this success to our ball games.
So don’t be like me – don’t dismiss ball skills as dull, boring, and unimportant. Make it fun for you, and it will be fun for your child, as well.