Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Developing Balance Skills in Preschool Children

by a contributor (Teresa Cheong from Lifebridges Communications)

Balancing on a low beam or one foot may look simple, but to your preschooler, it is a fundamental motor skill that needs a lot of practice to master. Effective development of locomotor skills is contingent on a child’s ability to master certain balance skills.

What are balance skills?

Good balance enables your child to control and maintain his or her body position while remaining in place or moving. Balance enables your child to hop on one foot several times or stand steadily on a moving walkway such as a travelator.

Why balance skills are important for preschool children

Balance is the fundamental motor skill underlying a preschooler’s successful participation in future physical or sports activities. Activities that require great balance: cycling, soccer, netball, gymnastics 

Being able to maintain balance gives a child confidence to enjoy complex physical movements such as dance, ballet, skating and skateboarding. 

A child must be able to master certain balance skills before progressing to locomotor skills. For example, running with a ball and stopping to kick it requires balance (stability) and hand-eye co-ordination. 

Balancing is an important skill to master

Development of balance skills by age

Balance skills develop progressively. Compare your child’s development against this checklist:

By Age One

Your child learns to stand unsupported. 

By Age Two

Your preschooler would have developed enough balance skills to:

Jump up with both feet leaving the ground 

Climb a staircase using one foot at a time while holding onto the railing 

By Age Three 

Your preschooler is able to:

Balance on one leg for five seconds

Hop on the preferred foot

Walk along a wide balance board

Pedal a tricycle

Hopping may seem simple but 
it takes some learning too 
(image from / Kai Chiang)

By Age Four 

Your preschooler shows improved balance skills:

Balance on one leg for a longer time (8–10 seconds)

Hop on one foot multiple times 

Steer a tricycle well

Walk part way along a narrow beam

Climb up and down the stairs with one foot on each step

By Age Five

Your preschool child is confident in using a wider range of balance skills: 

Stand on one foot for 10 seconds or more

Walk forward and backward for the length of a narrow beam 

Maintain balance on a moveable platform (e.g. travelator)

Walk on a straight line

Do heel to toe walk 

Poor balance skills impedes a child’s ability to enjoy a physically active life. Enrol your child in a preschool exercise programme that considers your child’s specific needs and abilities. You can register for a trial lesson at Ready Steady Go Kids and see if what they do is suitable for your child and you.

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