These are exciting years in your child's physical development. As they grow, they learn to apply their recently developed motions, like walking and running into fun activities. As you read this list from Active for Life, keep in mind that some children develop at different rates than others.
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By age two, most toddlers will have started running (some will have started as early as 20 months). They are still a bit unsteady on their feet and they often fall down, but they are keen to be fast and mobile.
TIP: Encourage your child in his running by making frequent trips to parks and other places where there are open spaces. When presented with an open field, most toddlers want to run and explore. Play games that promote running such as chasing a soccer ball or taking turns chasing each other.
Toddlers will naturally start to throw underhand before their second birthday, and some will even start to throw overhand. Their arms and legs will tend to be straight, and they won’t rotate their upper body very much, but they will improve steadily toward their fourth birthday. And the more they practise throwing, the better they’ll get.
TIP: Help your child to develop his throwing by playing catch with soft foam or fabric balls, or place simple paper targets on wall for him to throw at. You should use balls that are small enough for your child to easily grasp.
With a little coaching, you can teach your toddler to catch soft foam or fabric balls. Catching is a natural companion activity to throwing, and catching activities help him to develop the ability to track the flight of an object in the air.
TIP: Show your child how to form a “basket” with his two arms in front of his stomach. Gently toss the ball into his basket from a close distance of one to two metres. As his confidence grows and his fine motor skills improve, he will eventually start to use his hands more than his arms.
Around his second birthday, your toddler will start to kick a ball on the ground. He won’t have great form as he steps into the kick, but that’s OK. At this age, you simply want to encourage him to explore the movement of kicking.
TIP: Help your child to develop his kicking skills by having soft, lightweight balls available. You can even play one-on-one soccer at this age. Use your imagination: create goals using patio furniture, trees, shrubs and other objects. Let him score lots of goals to encourage him, and make sure you cheer and celebrate.
Swimming is essential in part because it’s a survival skill. Your child doesn’t need to be racing lengths of the pool by age four, but he should certainly be exposed to water and start developing his fundamental swimming skills.
TIP: Investigate swimming lessons at your local recreation centre by age three or four. Many programs encourage parents to be in the water alongside their child at the early ages.
Skating develops your child’s sense of balance on slippery surfaces. It’s also an essential skill for sports like figure skating, speed skating and Canada’s great pastime, hockey.
TIP: Like swimming, skating is a fundamental skill that requires a little more planning on the part of parents. Check out the beginner programs at your local recreation centre.
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