Have you ever noticed that kids enjoy walking along things- lines, curbs, etc.? Whenever we go to the open gym at the gymnastics center, Sweet Pea enjoys doing the balance beam, so I thought it would be a good addition to our “toys.”
Fortunately, my dad had some scraps lying around, so he made us one for free. Yay! It’s narrower than regulation size, but Sweet Pea and Buddy Boy’s feet are also smaller than most people who use regulation sized balance beams. And, I wanted it to be challenging for them, so our balance beam is only 2.5″ wide. It’s 6 feet long, which is a good length for our purposes.
Sweet Pea enjoys walking on it, and while she can do it without help, she also likes holding someone’s hand as she goes back and forth. The balance beam is a great activity for concentration, patience, and controlling her body (can’t be reckless or she’ll fall off). It’s been close to 30 years since I’ve done gymnastics, but fortunately, Sweet Pea is just at the beginning stages, so we have plenty to work on, like walking sideways, backwards, jumping, crossing her legs and side stepping, and so on before she’ll outgrown my knowledge of gymnastics and a balance beam. We can also turn on different types of music and have her walk to the music. And, some other ways to use her balance beam…
It’s also fun to jump over! I’ve noticed that her confidence with jumping (and her ability) has substantially increased since she got her balance beam a few weeks ago. She’s jumping EVERYWHERE. Okay, maybe that’s not such a good thing… 🙂 But, it is a gross/large motor skill that she needs to develop, and she’s clearly working on it.
We often talk about academics and fine motor skills, but large/gross motor skills are also important. Having good balance means having good control over one’s body, and is a skill that kids need to learn. It’s also something Sweet Pea has shown an interest in. Using a balance beam and practicing balance is also good for developing the connection between the eyes-brain-and body and can lead to crossing the mid-line activities, which helps in school.
Don’t have a balance beam but want to work on balance?
- Draw lines (curved ones too!) on the ground with chalk.
- Use masking tape to make lines to walk along (inside or outside).
- Use cracks/lines in on the concrete and walk along them.
- Large string also works, but is a bit harder since it’s easier to move.
Oh, and cars. The balance beam is great for driving cars along. 🙂 It appears that there’s no shortage of ways to use this balance beam!