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Why Hopscotch Works

Child at Play/Play at Work

Classic games like Hopscotch have stood the test of time for a reason. They’re not only fun, they’re good for kids. Here are 11 reasons why you should run out and buy chalk today!

1. Hopping = Midline Development

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 their physical coordination, they are 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

As much fun as hopping is, it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it, unless something gets in your way. That’s where the mechanics of Hopscotch are so brilliant, forcing kids to hop, jump and stop with deliberate control.


3. Stop & Start = Body Rhythm

The thing about hop-hop-hopping is that in order to get good at it, you've got to get into a regular rhythm. Think of Body Rhythm as an internal metronome... the constant "beat" of how we move our bodies. But more than movement, rhythm helps develop a whole host of other foundations. For instance, Body Rhythm underscores language acquisition by helping children tune into speech patterns.

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4. Leaping = Muscle Strength

Once children have tackled hopping, leaping comes next. As the game progresses, it's often necessary for children to leap over two or more spaces at one time. Two-footed, that's hard. But Hopscotch requires a one-footed leap, and that takes a lot of strength. Strength builds physical stamina and emotional confidence.


5. One-Footedness = Balance

A typical turn in Hopscotch looks something like this:  Throw... stand... hop... stop... bend... pick up... straighten up... leap... jump... hop... hop.. land... turn... and repeat. Now do most of that on one foot and that's a real test of balance! Balance is an essential building block to all physical movement, and cognitive, emotional, and social growth as well.


6. Spaces = Spatial Awareness

By fitting themselves into the boxes on the game board hopscotchers are developing spatial awareness which is an early lesson in how they "fit" into their world and how the world "fits" together.

7. Pitching Pebbles = Eye-Hand Coordination

The game begins by pitching your pebble onto the game board. This requires eye-hand coordination to judge the distance and coordinate the arm and hand movement to reach the target. That’s acutally a ton of body-brain computing going on. And of course, with each turn, the target changes, challenging their ability to make tiny - but important - adjustments for accuracy.


8. Picking Up Your Pebble = Whole Body Control

Stopping mid-way through the game board on one foot is hard enough. Now the rules requires the player to bend over and pick up their pebble. Yikes! That takes a lot of body control and concentration. But Hopscotch adds one more wrinkle -- the delicate control of the finger muscles to reach and retrieve the pebble.

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9. Strategy = Executive Function

Because the game board changes on each turn, children have to work out how they are going to approach it each time. Planning and strategizing are life-long skills learned through play. But unlike sedentary board games, an up and at 'em game of Hopscotch allows children to physically realize their plan while developing on-your-toes adaptabilty.


10. Taking Turns = Social Development

Hopscotch is a great "social campfire" for children. The simple, repetitive rules make it easy for children to learn and play and stay engaged in the game when it's not their turn. Friendships begin on the playground because kid-sized social experiences like Hopscotch create the framework for learning about peer relationships.


11. Winning & Losing = Character Development

When light-hearted competition is introduced into play time, the natural, human drive to succeed is all the incentive they need. And in the end, win or lose, the prize for every player is good sportsmanship.

Gotta Move!

There’s more than one way to get from here to there. Instead of walking wherever you go, try different ways to move. Let’s hop to the door; tiptoe to the letterbox; bunny hop to brush our teeth.

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