The Lil Kickers program at Soccer City, 545 Consumers Avenue, offers instruction, but there are other characteristics that make it a value-filled learning experience for kids aged 18 months to 12 years.
The nationally renowned soccer program based out of Seattle, Washington, was designed by a team of psychologists that structured the curriculum to encourage social and cognitive skills, in addition to physical skill instruction said Program Director Justin Breckan
“The way that we teach the kids is closely aligned with their different benchmarks of development,” Breckan said.
For example, a two-year-old child will hit development benchmarks for coordination and motor skills around age 3, so classes are designed to encourage and strengthen abilities appropriate to their age.
Classes for younger children are based on storytelling to help kids develop creative mindsets, while they strengthen hand/eye and eye/foot coordination through basic soccer skills.
The Bunnies Class is offered for 18-24 month olds, Thumpers for 24-36 months and Cottontails from 2.5-3.5 years of age.
The age overlap allows for children with different skill levels to be placed in classes appropriate for them.
“Some two-and-a-half year olds could be ready to move up to Cottontails while maybe a three-year-old should stay in Thumpers until they develop their skills a little more,” Breckan said.
Midway through the season, Breckan said instructors give parents recommendations and suggestions regarding what level their child should be for next season.
All classes for younger children are ‘parent interactive classes’ where parents are strongly encouraged to be involved in the classes.
“We are also there to help foster strong relationships between parents and children; when they participate in activities together, their dialogue naturally increases and bonds grow,” Breckan said.
Beginner children three to four years of age are placed in the Hoppers Class, while intermediate players are in the Jackrabbits Class.
“A lot of the initial class placements stem from conversations with the parents.” Breckan said.
Micro and Advanced classes are offered to kids four to 12 years who have a stronger handle on soccer skills, and include skill development for half of the class and scrimmaging for the other half.
“We are scrimmaging, not having the kids play a bigger game; anything beyond four versus four would not allow everyone to be
involved,” Breckan said. “It is designed to foster 100-percent participation.”
The next step up is the Advanced Class for children six through eight years of age who are at a higher skill level. TNT Classes are the top level of classes at Lil Kickers for nine through 12-year-olds.
“Whatever the age or class the child is in, we present materials based on the level at which they learn and understand,” Breckan said.
Older kids work on trapping, passing and receiving, changing direction and accuracy through specific skill development, while instructors
for littler children separate instruction of skills into smaller tasks.
“The younger children build cone towers, for example, and are then told to knock them down by kicking them; there they learn cause and effect and the beginning skills for soccer,” Breckan said. “They are
learning a number of skills while they are immersed into a number of different tasks.”
The first class for the Fall season began the first week of September, but enrollment is open and children can join at any time and fees will be prorated.
There is a $20 non-refundable registration fee, which is good for a year from the date it is paid, and all new participants receive a free Lil Kickers uniform to promote the idea of being part of a team.
Classes are 50 minutes and parents are required to stay for the entire duration of the class.
Lil Kickers programs are offered in all 50 states and in Canada, and there are currently 130 locations nationwide.
The program has been offered at the indoor facility at Soccer City for the last three years and also offered for the last two years in Lake Zurich at Home Run Sport and Fitness, 143 E. Main Street, which is an
For more information, visit www.lilkickers-nwi.com or call Lil Kickers at (847) 788-5312.