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.
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
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.