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Learning to Kick a Ball

Your toddler's barely learned to walk  -- but you could swear you just saw her kicking a rubber ball. It's true: By age 2, she'll have the balance and foot-eye coordination necessary to do this.

But don't expect her to bend it like Beckham anytime soon. At first, all she'll be able to do is hold her foot in front of her body and swiftly swat at the ball to push it forward. By age 3, she'll figure out how to swing her leg like a pendulum to send the ball soaring. It'll take her another couple of years to have the coordination to run up to the ball before punting it.

Until then, kick-start her new skill by rolling a ball toward her (use one that's lightweight, like a Nerf ball) so she can push it back to you with her foot. Once she learns to connect with the ball, she'll love playing this simple little game over and over. (Tip: If you take a little air out of a ball, it won't roll as far-meaning you won't have to chase it down.)

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