Hopscotch was one of my favorite games as a child and it still is today. In fact, Hopscotch proves one of my pet theories that (in most cases) what's fun for kids is good for kids.
Here's my Child-At-Play/Play-At-Work analysis of this timeless, universal classic or 11 Great Reasons to Rush Out and Buy Some Chalk Today!
1. HOPPING = MIDLINE DEVELOPMENT
CHILD'S PLAY. For kids, it feels good to move, and when it feels good, they want to do it over and over again... just as the rules of Hopscotch require.
PLAY'S WORK. Believe it or not, hopping on one foot is one of the most complex movements the human body can perform. The technical term for it is homolateral movement, defined as one side of the body moving while the other side of the body is still. For children, hopping signals sophisticated advances in both physical coordination, balance, AND cognitive development. You see, as your child refines her physical coordination, she is also building essential neural pathways in the brain. It's those exact same pathways which will one day become the conduits for left/right brain thinking tasks such as creativity, reasoning, and self-regulation.
2. DON'T STEP ON THE LINE = BODY CONTROL
CHILD'S PLAY. Whoaaaa! Don't hop on the line! As much as we think kids don't like rules, rules provide the challenge that make games like Hopscotch so much fun!
PLAY'S WORK. As much fun as hopping is, it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it unless something gets in your way. And that's where the mechanics of Hopscotch are so brilliant, forcing kids to hop, jump and stop with deliberate control. As such, Hopscotch is a master at helping children master self control.
3. STOP & START = BODY RHYTHM
CHILD'S PLAY. The thing about hop-hop-hopping is that in order to get good at it, you've got to get into a regular rhythm. Hopscotch gives kids lots of hopping practice, of course, which helps them find their rhythm. But more, the rules of the game require you to stop hopping, do something else, then start again. And that's the best practice of all for developing rhythm.
PLAY'S WORK. Think of Body Rhythm as an internal metronome... the constant "beat" of how we move our bodies, which in turn, helps to develop a whole host of other skills and capabilities that extend beyond movement. For instance, Body Rhythm underscores language acquisition by helping children tune into speech patterns which in turn, aids memory. For instance, what comes to mind when I say, "e-i-e-i-o."
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