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Do you have very active kids who seem to need an outlet? Wouldn’t it be nice to combine an (exhaustive) activity with fun developmental focused activities? “There’s an app for that!” comes to mind but no, it’s not an app. It’s Lil’ Kickers! They’ve developed a children’s soccer program that combines social, emotional, and cognitive skill development with physical exercise and it’s a blast!
Though Lil’ Kicker’s offers classes in many states, I had the pleasure of bringing my son to Lil Kicker’s in Northern Virginia! Lil’ Kicker’s DMV is an absolutely amazing program for children as young as 18 months old. It’s run by a diehard soccer family that truly gains pleasure from helping toddlers and kids grow into well rounded happy kids! Want proof? Read about Nadir (Hannah’s husband) to learn more about his amazing experience teaching and playing soccer. Click here.
…If this sounds good, you’ll want to read on!
When Hannah, one of the owners of Lil’ Kickers DMV, asked me to review their program in return for sponsoring my blog I was so excited! My kids have been asking me constantly about soccer classes and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try one out! Plus, who doesn’t love a program that will not only exhaust highly energetic kids but also help them grow?
So what makes Lil Kicker’s DMV different? The child development focus! It’s more than just chasing a ball from one side of a room to another. I’ll explain… here’s how the class my (almost) 3-year-old and I attended went…
This was an amazing first impression… When we signed in for our first class, Hannah (one of the owners) handed my son a jersey! The jersey was great quality and absolutely adorable…but it had a bigger purpose! It helped my son instantly feel part of a group. He was so excited to put the jersey on. The moment he did… he was ready to play and literally ran off to find a ball. Since that first day, he routinely gets his jersey and asks to put it on so he can go to soccer class… It’s so cute!
The Opening Circle
The first activity – opening circle – helps the children transition from their regular routine to the class environment. The children who were already familiar with the class clearly knew that the circle signaled that it was time to listen to the coaches. It was actually impressive to see how they quickly switched gears – I mean these were little kids! The other children were guided by the coaches to the circle and made to feel included.
The kids then introduced themselves (to the degree they could based on age) and this helped them build trust and relationships with their teammates (the other kids). It was great to see my son taking it all in and to see the look on his face when he was introduced. He was so proud!
During this activity, the kids try to learn each other’s names which is huge for a little kid my son’s age! Having everyone focus on one kid at a time, gives the kid introducing themselves feel a boost of confidence, it teaches the kids to focus, and it also helps the coaches learn everyone’s names. Honestly – I was amazed on how quickly the coaches learned the names of all the new students and it really helped them lead the team through all the activities. They were genuinely interested in getting to know each kid.
My son typically hangs on me. He is extremely confident and independent when I’m not in the room, but if I’m near… he hangs on me. I was amazed to see that the moment the class began, he was ready to join in ALONE. He didn’t hang on me or insist on holding my hand etc. I think he picked up on the coaches’ vibe and felt comfortable immediately which is amazing!
Then the kids did fun warm-up exercises like stretching, jogging, and tapping their toes on soccer balls. It was a great way to transition from sitting to active play. It got the kids used to remaining aware of their coaches’ instructions while playing.
Next, kids got to play a game of Freeze! Though this involved dancing around, being silly, and running wild, it was not JUST fun and games! This game helped the children learn to focus and be aware of their surroundings, coaches, and friends even while having fun.
For this activity, the coaches created little stations (islands or volcanos) using hula hoops and soccer balls. The kids ran around and either jumped into the hula hoops or trapped a soccer ball in them. This game helped the kids develop critical thinking skills and field awareness.
During the game, kids start by running round. Then when a coach gives the “command” they analyze the field to find an open space and move into it. Commands can be something like “Hot lava! Run to the blue island!” which means that kids need to find a blue hula hoop to run into. For older kids, they add a ball which adds coordination development to the mix because kids need to try to trap the ball in the hula hoop!
Castles & Cannonballs
During this game, the kids worked on balance, coordination, teamwork and passing skills in an imaginative setting. The coaches made the game so exciting, that it kept the kids’ attention and kept them engaged (which is difficult when you’re dealing with preschoolers!)
The kids team up and become the “Knights”. They work together to knock down the “Dragon’s Castle” which is basically a mass of cones. The kids had to work together to knock down the castles because the coaches are “protecting” them – well sort of!
My son had SUCH an amazing time knocking down the castles! It was great to see the kids team up and work together even at such a young age. It was a great opportunity for them to learn how to work as a team towards a single goal.
Okay, I’m not actually sure what this activity was called, but let’s go with “Tree Tops” for now…
For this game, children grab little orange disks (with a hole in the middle) and place them on top of the cones. There were enough disks and cones that each kid got to do at least 5-10 of them. The kids had a blast running around doing this. But then it got better!
They then got to knock the discs (tree tops) off the cones by kicking the cones with a soccer ball!
Everyone had such a blast and you could see the kids were learning coordination AND having a great time! This might have been my little one’s favorite activity.
Like the opening circle, the closing circle served as a transition tool. It helped the kids relax after their high energy games and get ready to return to their regularly scheduled activities :-).
All in all, I have to say that I LOVED this program! I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. So many children’s activities claim to be educational, but after experiencing this one I have to say that I really saw a difference.
I remember seeing my siblings go to soccer and basketball classes when they were little. The class consisted of a bunch of kids running after a couple of balls. A mass of little ones would chase a few balls from one side of the field or court. Then they’d chase it in the opposite direction. This would continue for about 30 minutes until a kid got hurt or wanted their mommy and then the class would disintegrate. On the best days, the class would end without any crying.
This class was SO DIFFERENT!
All activities had very clear goals and the coaches very clearly loved kids! The coaches did an amazing job of interacting with each kid on an individual basis and as a team. You could even see the coaches took a special interest in new kids so that they could establish a relationship with them.
My son often hangs on me when I’m around. He’s independent when I’m not around but wants to be with me – and touching me – when I’m around. Not at Lil’ Kickers! My munchkin was immediately greeted by the sweetest coaches and quickly accepted into the group. He had no trouble leaving my side and stayed engaged the whole time! He had a blast and constantly asks to go back! If i could take him daily, he’d be thrilled!
If you’re looking for a sports program for your little boy or girl who teaches them teamwork, coordination, how to focus, and how to follow directions in a fun and welcoming environment, then you definitely want to give Lil’ Kickers a try!
If you’re in the Washington D.C. area, go to http://www.lilkickersdmv.com.
If you’re not, there may still be a program near you! Click here to see if there’s a location near you.
Lil’ Kicker’s DMV has classes in Chantilly, Herndon, McLean and Fairfax in Virginia! If you live near those areas and have a little one between 18 months old and 6 years old, you have a chance to win 4 FREE classes!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
To be eligible, you must have a child between 18 months and 6 years old and be able to attend a class in Chantilly, Herndon, McLean or Fairfax OR you can enter the giveaway and give the classes as a gift to someone who can use them! You (or your child) must not already be enrolled in a Lil’ Kicker’s DMV class. Also, you must claim your prize within 24 hours of the winner being announced in my newsletter or a new winner will be selected. (More T&C may be located in the Rafflcecoppter app). Good luck!