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HomeHealth & BehaviorHealth & Nutrition

Don't just exercise: Hop! Gallop! Side-slide!

Help your child stay active by teaching locomotor skills.

GreatSchools Blog

By GreatSchools Staff

Skipping isn’t just child's play, it’s crucial for development. Sure, it’s never easy to keep exercising, but by starting early you could inspire a lifetime of movement.

Locomotor skills are the basic ways to move, the building blocks of coordination. Help your child practice these important skills: walking, galloping, jumping, hopping, side-sliding, leaping and skipping. Start gradually with walking (the easiest) and steadily advance to skipping (the most difficult).

This is a perfect transition activity, during a play date when things aren’t going well. Put on some favorite music and turn the living room into an exercise studio. Most are intense exercises, so allow rest time between skills. Most children naturally build up their skills over time just getting around their neighborhood — but a little indoor locomotion in the winter months certainly can’t hurt.

Learning tips

A few tips to help children learn each locomotor skill:

  • Walking: Use smooth, straight steps with arms swinging gently in opposition of feet. Practice different kinds of walks: low with bent legs, high on tippy toes, fast like a robot, or slow like moving through honey.
  • Galloping: One foot is the leader, and the other foot follows behind. Don’t forget to do both sides!
  • Jumping: With feet close together, push off with both feet and land on both feet. Can you make the landing quiet? How high can you jump? How many times in a row? This is a good time to try jumping rope.
  • Hopping: With one foot on the ground, push with toes. How fast can you hop? How slowly? Is one side harder than the other?
  • Side-sliding: Move sideways with one foot leading (a sideways gallop). Have your kid spread his or her arms wide and get some air in the middle of the slide.
  • Leaping: Go over an object leading with one foot and landing on the other.
  • Skipping: March with knees high; each time one knee is in the air, hop on the other foot — step/hop, step/hop, step/hop.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

07/5/2011:
"I found asking my child to count steps while walking helped her improve concentration "
11/12/2009:
"I find that on demand whether you have verizon or comcast is a great way to get kids involved, my kids enjoy the 30 minute 'kids walk' and the yoga videos."
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