Hopscotch was one of my favorite games as a child. In fact, Hopscotch shows us that is what is fun for kids is good for kids. Fun playing a game while natural development of vision and eye-body coordination skills, along with motivation in competition and sportsmanship are nurtured.
As vision is related to hopscotch (see below), importantly vision is related to learning – 80% of learning comes through our eyes as vision to the brain. If a child is struggling in school, or working twice as hard for their academic success, then likely vision is the problem; 75% of children with learning issues have two or more visual skills delivery far below normal performance levels.
1. HOPPING = BODY PERFORMANCE
PLAY’S WORK. Believe it or not, hopping on one foot is one of the most complex movements the human body can perform. For children, hopping signals sophisticated advances in both physical coordination, balance, and cognitive (thinking) development. As a child refines their physical coordination, they are 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. 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. HOP-HOP-HOPPING = 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. The Body Rhythm underscores language acquisition by helping children tune into speech patterns which in turn, aids memory.
4. LEAPING = MUSCLE STRENGTH
Once children have tackled hopping, leaping comes next, which is also a big part of Hopscotch. As the game progresses, it’s often necessary for children to leap over two or more spaces at one time. Strength builds physical stamina, of course, but it is more, when young children push themselves to new, physical achievements, the brain is recording these sensations and preparing itself to take on even bigger challenges in other areas of life and learning. For instance, when confronted with a gnarly math problem, children who understand the effort it takes to leap, stand a better chance of sticking with the problem to get to the solution.
5. SPACES = SPATIAL AWARENESS
The iconic spaces of a Hopscotch board determine the playscape, define the rules, and present the challenge. So often today, we encourage children to “think outside the box” or “color outside the lines.” These metaphors for creative thinking and problem solving are great, yet there are times when boxes and boundaries are necessary to help children develop fundamental skills. And Hopscotch is one of those times; by fitting themselves into the boxes on the game board they are developing spatial awareness which helps them understand how they and the world “fit” together…spatial awareness.
6. PITCHING MARKER = EYE/HAND COORDINATION
The game begins by pitching your marker onto the game board. A natural motivator for eye/hand coordination to pitch your marker for easier hopping. This humble beginning is actually a test of a child’s ability to see a target with their eyes and translate that knowledge to their arm and hand to determine the right aim and amount of force necessary to reach the target. This is eye/hand coordination at work, and while we don’t see it, there is much body-brain computing going on. And of course, with each turn, the target changes, getting further and further away, challenging their ability to make tiny – but important – adjustments for accuracy.
7. STRATEGY = SEQUENCING & PRIORITIZING
Because the game board changes with the pitched markers, children have to work out how they are going to approach the next round… hop-hop-leap-jump-hop-stop, etc. What fun!
Planning and strategizing are life-long skills learned through play. But unlike sedentary board games, a movement game of Hopscotch allows children to physically realize their plan while developing adaptability.
8. TAKING TURNS = SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Hopscotch is a great “socializing” tool for children – it is democratic. The simple, repetitive rules make it easy for children to learn and play and stay engaged in the game when it is not their turn. Friendships begin on the playground because social experiences like Hopscotch create the framework for learning about peer relationships.
9. WINNING/LOSING = CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
When light-hearted competition is introduced into play time, kids naturally push themselves to be better. No one needs to stand on the sidelines encouraging them. The natural, human drive to succeed is all the incentive they need to try harder. When children develop good sportsmanship, they are developing the skills and attitudes they will need for a well-balanced approach to life. Because in the end, winning feels great but losing build character.