Learning how to skip can be a challenging skill for many kids. These tips can help!
Skipping is a skill that you will often see a 5 year old beginning to master as they gain body awareness and bilateral coordination. It’s a locomotor skill that is seen during games of tag in the backyard – and an indicator of pure joy on the playground!
But, this skill is SO HARD for some kids and, as a pediatric physical therapist, it is one of the hardest skills to teach. Skipping is a target skill on some of our standardized testing and is a benchmark ability in physical education class.
Here are my top tips for teaching a child to maintain this tricky movement pattern. You can see some of these strategies in action in this short video!
Learning How to Skip
Working on Leg Separation
Sometimes a child’s ability to achieve leg separation is the BIGGEST challenge! Try marching in place, cross crawls, or ski jumps. If it helps, have them weightbear with their hands through a table or wall for upper body support and input.
Working on Single Leg Stance and Hopping
Single leg stance and the ability to hop consecutively on one foot needs to be the first order of business! It is important to practice hopping in place first. One hop right foot. One hop left foot, repeating a few times.
Then, have them try to move forward while doing it. Go between two taped lines on the floor by hopping twice on the right and then twice on the left. Once they can do two hops each, try alternating hops between the lines (it will look a lot like skipping!).
Try holding their hands and skipping backwards while they attempt to skip forward to allow them to feel your rhythm and fluidity of the alternating movement pattern.
Give a verbal cue like “step-hop, step-hop”.
Sing a Song
Sometimes the rhythm of a song can help kids feel the rhythm of the skipping pattern. Try “Skip, skip, skip to my Lou”.
Pull out the visuals! Use stickers of 2 different colors on each of the child’s knees and corresponding colors on the floor. Cue “red” leg hop on red spot, step, “blue” leg hop on blue spot, step. They will have to lift their knee up to see the color spot on their knee which also reinforces the pattern.
Supporting Motor Skill Development
These are tips that I use in my therapy practice every day to get kids on their way to skipping independently! Looking for tips for supporting the development of other motor skills? Check these out…