With the FIFA World Cup kicking off in just 42 days, footy fever is mounting in our house. This year we are blessed to have two teams to cheer on from the sidelines, Australia and Croatia. They are both (thankfully) in different groups and with any luck they’ll both be in the final. As exciting as that is, the very best part of the World Cup in our family is that its perfect timing to begin teaching our toddler how to kick a ball, and perhaps even shoot a few goals of his own.
Introducing ball skills, or any forms sports for that matter to children are great ways to help children form social skills like sharing, taking turns, following directions and being a good sportsman. Having such a big sports event like the FIFA World Cup as a focus in the house provides a focus for staying active to keep their little bodies (and ours) fit and healthy, all the while having fun out in the sunshine and developing coordination skills.
How to introduce football to kids
Its important to think about how old your child is, and keep the activity age appropriate, while also encouraging them to push into a new skills set. Here are some fun ways to bring football to your children.
- Head into your own yard and and help your child get comfortable with kicking the ball when no one else is watching. Show them how it’s done and be encouraging, even if they miss.
- If you have a toddler, a regular size football, even a children’s one will be too heavy to kick. Try finding a small beach ball or similar to use. This way they won’t be discouraged.
- Head to your local park with your football and take turns kicking the ball back and forth with your child.
- Encourage your children to play with other kids at the park, making sure they each take turns.
- Ask your child to kick the ball in different directions, and to practice using the left and right legs.
- Once they’ve mastered the basics of kicking, set up a few cones or similar and practice kicking between the two objects. Something like a garbage bin or some big rocks will do the trick!
- For smaller kids, you could use a pop out tunnels (like the ones used for cats) and place the ball and one end and ask your child to kick the ball through to the other side.
- If football is something that your child is enjoying, you may want to think about purchasing childrens goal set.
- For some kids not touching the ball will be hard to resist. Make up games to help then just use their feet – hand in the pockets always works a treat.
- For older children, watch the World Cup matches together and talk about what they see and how they can implement what they see.
- For extra fun, why not learn new words in different languages. Goal or ball for instance.
Dutch doelpunt bal
Finnish maali pallo
French but ballon
German Tor Ball
Italian goal/rete pallone
Latvian vārti bumba
Moroccan gol korra
Portuguese gol bola
Spanish gol pelota/balon
Swedish mål boll
Welsh gôl pêl
Whatever you decide to do, have fun! Give lots of praise and hugs and kisses whenever they hit the ball or score a goal.
Enjoy the World Cup!
Author: SJ Begonja from Chasing the Donkey. SJ is an Australian expat who packed her very typical life & shifted it along with her Croatian Husband and Son to rebuild the old house they inherited in Croatia. She blogs about raising a bi-lingual child, travelling in Croatia.