Patterns are everywhere, and our brains are designed to find them and use them. We know that kids often work on patterns like “ABAB” or “ABCABC”, but why is that important? It turns out that this work with patterns lets children practice what might be the most essential pattern: “When this happens, then that happens.” This core concept supports everything from learning new words to figuring out other peoples’ behaviors.
When it comes to academic learning, studies have shown that understanding of patterns in early childhood is one of the strongest predictors of math achievement all the way through eighth grade!
This week, try a classic game of hopscotch to help your learner practice and understand patterns. All you need is some chalk and a stretch of sidewalk or driveway!
1. Help your child draw a hopscotch course. (You can also use numbered mats if you have them.) Alternate between one box and two boxes.
2. Explain the rules of the game to your child. Point out that sometimes there is only one box, and sometimes there are two. Tell them that one box means there’s only room for one foot, and two boxes means there is room for two feet, one on each box.
3. Model how you hop through the boxes, alternating between landing on one foot and landing on two. Encourage your learner to follow along by hopping in place next to you. This will encourage them recreate the pattern of movements they’ll need to play the game.
4. Invite your child to try out the hopscotch course, taking turns until you’re both tired. For an added challenge (or the next time you play), you can even vary the pattern of the hopscotch course; for example, you might try a pattern where you have two single boxes in a row followed by double boxes, so you and your learner must hop twice on one leg before landing on two.
Many of the patterns your child will encounter will be visual, but that’s only one kind of pattern. An activity like hopscotch allows the pattern to become a whole-body experience!
We would love to hear your thoughts on this activity, as well as suggestions on future topics to cover! Please leave a comment.