Want to improve reading skills? Practice skipping.

When teaching children to read, what do we usually do?  Read to them, play reading games, point out words to them, encourage them with flash cards, listen to them reading…

Conventional wisdom tells us to keep practicing the skill we want to learn.

But, more and more evidence is pointing to the fact that children should go out into the playground if we really want to boost their reading, writing and maths skills.

Exercises that promote coordination skills, crossing the midline, rhythm and concentration are all essential to learning to read, but research suggests that one of the best exercise of all to promote reading skills is skipping.

I don’t mean skipping with a rope – I’m talking about the step-hop movement where you travel forward by hopping on alternating legs.

Skipping uses both sides of the brain, but more importantly, it requires the two sides of the brain to work together to coordinate the required movement.  As a child learns to skip, connections are built between the two brain hemispheres, and it’s these same connections that are needed for learning to read.

Pat Jones from www.teacher-support-force.com even goes so far as to say that if a child can’t skip, he or she (generally speaking) won’t be able to read!

While I can’t find evidence to support this claim, I would tend to believe it, because I know how powerful the right combination of exercises and movement activities can be for the development of classroom-related skills.

Besides, skipping is such a basic fundamental skill, and such an easy thing to practice every day with zero equipment, I think it’s well worth trying, don’t you?

Simon McQueen

Simon McQueen is the founder and creator of Fit Kids, a fundamental movement program of the highest quality. He currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa, where he spends his days building Fit Kids and running the best nipper club in the country on the beach where he grew up - Fish Hoek Surf Lifesaving Club.

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