Not all children are born with the catching ability of Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees, but all the same, your preschooler can master his catching skills and advance his gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Children love to throw things, whether it’s a ball, Frisbee, beanbag or just a crumpled up piece of paper. When kids first learn how to catch, they may actually fear the object being thrown and put their hands up to protect themselves. Like with any new skill, encourage your preschooler to practice catching through various activities and games. Soon enough, you’ll have a little athlete on your hands.
1. Balloon Catch
Balloons are the ideal tool for children learning how to catch. They move slowly through the air, allowing sufficient time for a child to get into position for catching. Kids will love learning to catch all on their own. Have your child hold the balloon with both hands out in front of her body. As she brings her arms upwards, the balloon will float into the air and come slowly back down, allowing time for your child to catch the balloon like a pro.
2. Catch and Throw
Preschoolers can master catching by using a variety of balls differing in shape and size. Begin with a lightweight, large ball that will be easy for your child to catch, such as a beach ball or playground ball. Gradually progress to smaller balls, such as basketballs or soccer balls, as your child becomes proficient in his ball catching abilities. Parents can also change the shape of the ball to make it more challenging, such as with a football. Throw the ball back and forth with your child, creating distance between the two players as your preschooler shows off his newly practiced skills. Many children are naturally competitive, so use your child’s love for competition to your advantage. Make the catching activity into a game, and whoever goes the longest without dropping the ball is the champion.
3. Beanbag Catch
Beanbags are lightweight, easy to catch, and can be made at home with just some fabric and dried beans or rice. Children love to be challenged, and beanbags can be used for a wide variety of quick beanbag challenges that will enhance your child’s catching skills – and best of all – he won’t even know he’s learning a new skill as he strives to triumph in your mini challenges. Have your child throw the beanbag in the air, clap once and catch it, or throw the beanbag in the air, jump once, then catch it. Parents and preschoolers can also play catch with a beanbag. Create distance between you and your preschooler with every successful catch to make it more challenging.
4. Dynamic Catching
Kids are capable of doing several things at once, which is obvious in the way they are able to run, jump, scream and hop — all while tugging on mom’s pants for a drink. Therefore, your child should have no problem mastering dynamic catching, or catching while moving. Walk in a small circle with your preschooler and pass the ball back and forth to each other. Begin by walking slowly, but gradually speed up the pace when your child is able to catch the ball without it dropping. As your child achieves expert status with his dynamic catching, make the distance of the circle greater to make it more challenging. Have your child simply throw the ball across the circle to you or bounce the ball between you and your preschooler.
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