Hopping is a more advanced skill than jumping as it requires balance and strength. Children between the age of 5 and 7 should show marked improvement in speed, control and technique. Hopping is a good indicator of being able to maintain balance while moving, which is often referred to as dynamic balance. This is a difficult skill for kindergarten children who still may be learning to jump.
Hopping can be quite intimidating for beginners - ease your child's nerves by demonstrating the skill at a level that is attainable for your child. Use the KIDDO teaching cues to assist;
- Quiet landings (bend ankles, knees and hips)
- Bend your leg to push off
- Head up and eyes forward (look towards where you are hopping)
- Swing & spring
Provide opportunities for children to explore hopping in a low pressure environment, such as in transition activities. Encourage children to explore the skill of hopping by asking questions such as:
- What can you hop over?
- What do you do with your arms when you hop?
- Can you teach me how to hop?
- How long can you hop for?
- Show me lots of different types of hops? Little hops, big hops, slow motion hops (join in and exaggerate your movement).
Hold hands with the child if needed when attempting to hop to help with balance. Hopping can be very tiring so break activities up with running, side stepping, skipping etc
Encourage children to have fun with hopping by setting up your indoor and outdoor environment with interesting hopping opportunities. As an intimidating skill for young children, provide lots of low pressure opportunities through active play and brain breaks!
- Hang ribbons from trees for children to hop up to and pull down
- Place coloured cones in the sandpit to try and hop on to
- Join in on hopping games to allow children to mimic your action
- Place pillows and soft toys to hop over
- Blow bubbles to hop on
- Set up interesting obstacle course both indoors and outdoors with hopping features - draw/use feet markers to encourage hopping, have hoops to hop between, have balancing stations where children can practice standing on one leg
- To increase children’s confidence and engagement let them create their own hopping obstacle courses
- Utilise hopping as a locomotor skill in games children already know and love, such as What's the Time Mr. Wolf, or Animal Walks games
- See how many hops they can get in a row
- Encourage children to swap legs to rest the hopping leg
- Set up obstacle courses and try hopping through and around obstacles
- Play games such as Hopping Patterns or Stork Tag
- Introduce the use of the arms to generate power
- Introduce hopping into games such as Lilypads and Leapfrogs
- Support leg bends on landing, then straightens to push off
- Lands and pushes off on the ball of the foot
- Non-support leg bent and swings in rhythm with the support leg
- Head and trunk stable, eyes focused forward
- Arms bent and swing forward as support leg pushes off
- Able to hop on both left and right legs
Common errors young children make as they begin to hop include;
- Unable to maintain balance for consecutive hops
- Landing with stiff ankles, knees and hips – you may hear a slap when they land
- Hold swing leg stiffly to front, side or back
- Arms not actively moving to assist the action