Gone Outdoors

How to Teach a Child a Forward Roll

by Beth Rifkin

Along with being fun, forward rolls help children learn coordination and agility. Offering kids a supportive environment as they learn new tumbling skills can provide the foundation for confidence, effective motor skills, body mechanics and a positive attitude. Maximize your child’s forward roll learning experience by delivering clear instructions, demonstrations, plenty of practice time and a lot of patience.

1. Separate a large class into small groups so that the children have ample practice time. To master the forward roll, the children will need to repeatedly perform the tumbling skill. Having the children practice the forward roll one by one, as they stand in a line and wait their turn, limits the time they have to learn. Alternatively, dividing the students into small groups or partners, gives each student more opportunity to practice the roll.

2. Explain the forward roll with detailed instructions. Though something as simple as performing a somersault can seem obvious to an adult, the skill is likely brand new to a group of toddlers. Provide full sequential steps with clear verbal cues.

3. Demonstrate the forward roll for the kids. Seeing the actions in motion can help the children to understand how the somersault is executed. Enlist the help of an assistant or student teacher so you can explain each step as the assistant is performing each aspect of the roll.

4. Show students how to transfer their weight from one body part to the next, which is essential for coordination and safety. For example, body weight remains on the feet as the child squats down, tucks the head and rounds their back. The weight then transfers to the hands, which are placed on the ground in front of the feet. As the student pushes through their toes, the weight transfers onto the lower back and then back onto the feet as the child returns to a standing position.

Items you will need
  • Mats

Tips

  • Emphasize that the children place their weight on the shoulders and upper back rather than on their heads.
  • Adapt or modify skills as needed so that each child understands how to perform the forward roll. The verbal cues that one kid understands may not be adequate for another; alter your words or tactics so that you reach every kid in your class.

Warning

  • Never let the children practice any tumbling moves without an adult present.

About the Author

Based in San Francisco, Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis," "American Fitness" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.

Photo Credits

  • Tiutiun/iStock/Getty Images