We use balance in everything we do. Babies start balancing as soon as they start trying to sit up. Balance is essential for the development of all other Fundamental Movement Skills and helps children feel confident and safe when moving around. There are two types of balance:
- Static Balance is balance while you are still, for example standing on one leg
- Dynamic Balance is balance whilst on the move, for example walking along a balance beam
At the ages of 3 and 4 years old the skill of balance should be a focus in any physical literacy program.
Use KIDDO’s teaching vocabulary to help children develop their static balance while practicing balancing on one leg. Children may need to use a wall or chair or hold a hand for support initially.
- Head up
- Aeroplane arms
- Eyes forward looking at something ahead of them e.g. tree
Provide plenty of opportunities to balance. Try asking questions such as:
- What can we balance along?
- What do you do with your arms when you balance?
- How does a flamingo like to stand?
- Can you try balancing along that log and looking at me?
- Let see how many different things we can balance on
Letting children play on different surfaces, levels and slopes both indoors and outdoors will help encourage the development of balance. Try some of the ideas below to encourage children to have fun exploring and developing the skill of balance.
- Set up crawling, walking and running obstacle courses that go down and up slopes, over obstacles such as cushions or stepping stones and onto different surfaces such as sand, carpet, grass or woodchips.
- Mark out chalk or masking tape lines where children can try moving forwards, zigzag and backwards.
- Count how long children can balance on one leg for. They try balancing on different body parts – one foot and one hand, one bottom or two hands and one foot etc.
- Dance along to action songs such as Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and Run, Run, RUnby Peter Combe
- Set up obstacles to run around, in and out of and through
Movements such as gently swinging, spinning and rocking a baby helps to develop their vestibular system which is important for balance. Allowing babies to explore their bodies through unrestrained movement, for example by discovering their hands, feet and the space around them, gives them sensory feedback and through this movement is how they first learn about the world around them.
For toddlers and young children:
Try playing some of KIDDO’s fun and age appropriate activities to encourage children to develop and explore both static (balance when still) and dynamic (balance while moving):
- Set-up an obstacle course that incorporate different balance challenges – balance along a line, stand on one leg, balance a bean bag on your head
- Play fun balancing games such as Musical Balances that challenge children to make different animal balances e.g. flamingo – stand on one leg
- Running games that involve changing directions are great for developing dynamic balance, Try balancing on a snake or an island, and running away from pirates in Turtles, Snakes and Islands
- How quickly can you move between all the different types of Beans in this great no equipment, indoors or outdoors activity? Try a string bean, broad bean, baked bean and frozen bean!
- Develop balance on the move by performing different movements in a game of Friendly Pixie:
- Running on tip toes
- Giant steps
- Running backwards
- Changing directions
- Starting and Stopping
Balance begins to develop before birth and continues until adulthood. Without balance we couldn't sit, crawl or stand, balance is critical to all movement. Children:
- generally can’t balance on one and leg until the age of two
- may be able to balance on one leg with their eyes closed by age seven.
- when first starting to balance on one leg or along balance beams, children may wave their arms around erratically while trying to balance and look at the ground.