Juggling Helps Students Succeed
Several teachers and administrators said
that they've seen students' schoolwork improve after the kids learned
Improvements in concentration, eye-hand coordination,
fine motor skills, reading, and behavior are just some of the benefits
of juggling cited by educators. In fact, several teachers said that
juggling increases students' ability to concentrate, enhances their
eye-hand coordination, and builds self-confidence.
"They don't just perform better, they have
a desire to perform better," says Debbie Curtis of students who
participate in her school's juggling club. Curtis, the principal
of Nowlin Elementary School in Blue Springs, Missouri, added, "They
seem to try harder in class and have fewer discipline problems."
At Nowlin, students learn to juggle in kindergarten
during physical education classes; they practice during classroom
Greg Goodman, the school's physical education
teacher says he started the juggling program seven years ago to
appeal to children not interested in team sports. The students perform
at an annual assembly at their school and at other schools as well.
Classroom teachers have reported seeing improvement in students'
academic work and focus after they start juggling. "You look at
how they use both sides of the brain [while juggling]," he says.
"Juggling gives students a lot of confidence, and it's something
they can practice without a coach."
Juggling also is good for developing eye-hand
coordination and learning to store memories. "Kids learn the easy
stuff and then move on," Goodman says. "They can do literally hundreds
of thousands of [juggling] patterns with just three objects."
Students who juggle also get a physical
workout. After wearing heart rate monitors to measure their exertion
level while juggling, the students realized they had to be in good
physical shape if they wanted to do complicated routines, according
Schools in Jacksonville, Florida, have experienced
similar success with their juggling programs.
"The whole school juggles," says Alice Daugherty,
a first-grade special education teacher at Alimacani Elementary
School in Jacksonville, which has pre-K through fifth graders. "We
use it to improve eye-hand coordination, concentration, and confidence."
She too has observed children's reading skills improve after lids
learn to juggle. In fact, that was one reason for launching the
"We started a juggling program in 1994-1995
to help prepare the kids for reading," Jan Tipton, Alimacani's physical
education teacher tells Education World. Some teachers observed,
moreover, that children who had trouble learning to juggle also
had trouble learning to read. "We find that if we give kids extra
practice juggling, their reading improves as well. It's my way of
helping in an academic area," Tipton notes.
Juggling also provides other benefits. "It
levels the playing field. Some kids don't excel in other areas of
athletics, but they can juggle well," Tipton says. Juggling is a
good way for kids to burn off steam, adds third-grade teacher Catrina
Perkins. Perkins, who is learning to juggle from some of her students,
uses juggling to help students practice listening and following
directions as well as build teamwork skills as they work on group
First-grade teacher Ellen Langley said that
she has seen children apply the concentration they develop from
learning to juggle to other activities, including academic activities.
"They will pick up a book and read it right through," Langley says.
"I believe that when you learn to focus and pay attention to steps,"
adds third-grade teacher Terry Brock, "that helps with everything."
For the children, of course, the benefits
of juggling probably are not as important as the fun they're having.
"The kids enjoy it so much," Goodman says. "They get positive attention
for learning a new skill, and it's a good hook to get them involved