If you have bright dreams of your 2-year-old becoming the next Major League all-star, you might want to consider starting early. While toddlers aren’t quite developmentally ready for the full-on baseball experience, they can start out with a lesson or two in tee ball. Get your sporty shorty active and help him to build age-appropriate motor skills at the same time by teaching the tee ball ins and outs.
Fine Motor Development
Sports such as tee ball don’t have a corner on the gross, or large, motor development arena. If you think that your little slugger will only train his bigger muscles when he plays a pre-baseball game, think again. Teaching your toddler tee ball can actually help improve his fine motor development. Handling the bat helps build dexterity and finger and hand strength, as well as eye-hand coordination. Don’t forget to have your toddler get a grip on the ball itself and toss it around with you to help build these essential motor skills.
Just because your toddler is hitting the tee ball in the safety of your own backyard doesn’t give you license to pop back into the house and start on dinner. Even the light and airy plastic ball that goes with most tee ball sets can pose a safety hazard, not to mention the bat and the tee stand as well. Always supervise your toddler at all times when teaching him the basics of a ball game. While it’s fairly obvious that you will be by his side when doing the actual teaching, remember to stay close when he is practicing or playing.
Sure, the physical aspect of tee ball seems like it’s the first and foremost part of teaching, but moms shouldn’t leave the emotional part to the side. Toddlers are in the beginnings of developing the physical skills such as eye-hand coordination, balance and strength that are necessary to hit the ball on the tee stand. This means that your toddler may get easily frustrated when he misses or the ball doesn’t go soaring through the air. Give him words to express his anger or sadness as well as encouragement such as, “Johhny, I know that it is making you mad when you miss the ball, but the more you practice, the easier it will get.” If your tantrum-prone toddler gets out-of-hand and begins to scream, kick or throw the tee ball equipment at you, remove him from the situation immediately.
Before your begin the teaching process, make sure that your tee ball set-up maximizes your toddler’s learning and playful fun-time. Hint? Use an outside area. While your toddler might have a blast playing ball in the basement, no one — meaning mostly you — wants to see a broken room. Place the tee ball stand in an open outside space that is far from cars, the road or windows (both yours and your neighbor’s). Make sure that your child has a full range of motion when he swings the bat, keeping the tee ball area free from bushes, swing sets and other obtrusive objects.