Tips and Tricks Tuesdays!- Increasing Leg Strength

Not every child needs specific leg strengthening activities.  But if you feel your child has difficulty with some of the following activities, then they may need some specific leg strengthening activities:

  • Jumping off steps and landing without using their hands
  • Going up and down stairs (especially park equipment stairs) without holding onto a handrail
  • Stepping up/down 1 step without holding onto anything

baby-weightlifting

For adults who need leg strengthening, you would typically have them do different squatting and lunging activities and different stair activities, but it’s hard to encourage a child to just imitate you squatting like the baby above haha since it’s not very interesting or fun, so here are some ideas that I start using for kiddos as young as 12 months:

  • Obstacle courses that involve picking up various items along the way and taking them to a finishing point
  • — If you have a finishing point, then your child will be less inclined to sit on the floor and play with whatever objects you place on the floor for them to pick up.  So they get some great squatting practice with each object they pick up.
  • — Some ideas for squatting activities include:
  • —— Going “shopping”- I place various pretend food / kitchen item / toy on the floor, and have my kiddos have a small basket to place each of “purchases” in.
  • —— Using Connect 4 or any game with multiple play pieces- and have them pick up multiple pieces to place in the game.
  • —— Using a scavenger hunt or Easter egg type hunt, to make picking up the items more exciting.
  • Playing “limbo”- it’s hard to encourage a child to practice lunge walking or keeping a squat for longer than it takes to pick up a toy. So I set up a limbo activity that encourages them to bend their knees in order to walk under the limbo stick. I have them lean forward to go under the stick rather than the traditional limbo method.
  • — I usually use multiple sticks or pool noodles in a row and set them at various heights, depending on how long I think the child can last walking in a squatting position and how low I want them to squat.
  • — I also add music sometimes to make it a real limbo game if the child understands games and rules
  • — I make it more challenging by having my kiddos hold a ball or other object with 2 hands to discourage them from bear walking (crawling) under the limbo sticks.

  • Reaching up for a “pinata”- I do this activity to work on balance and calf strengthening. 
  • — I basically tie a ball or object on a string and either hang it in the middle of a room or hold it up over a child’s head as they try to reach up and grab the object or reach up and hit the “pinata.”  
  • — This activity is challenging for kids who don’t have very good balance because it’s harder to stand up on your toes without walking around.
  • —– I like to use my favorite toy- Oballs– since they are easy to tie with a string, and you can tie multiple Oballs together to make it really fun.  I also add bells or other noisy things to make it exciting.

 



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  1. Tips and Tricks Tuesdays- Encouraging Squatting « Beyond Basic Play

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