It wasn’t easy, but Sterling Elementary fourth-grader Mia Rosa kept alternating tosses with the three multi-colored scarfs she and her classmates were learning to juggle with Monday. Surrounded by a sea of around 100 third and fourth graders in the school gym, Bruce Pfeffer, director of Circus of the Kids, waded through the crowd, providing instruction to Rosa and others on how to properly juggle the scarves, an exercise that research shows develops hand-eye coordination and motor skills. It also promotes concentration.
Physical Education teacher Kim Hanson brought the Tallahassee-based program that Pfeffer started in 1982 to mix learning, exercise and character building at Sterling Elementary in hopes of not only getting her students moving, but also thinking.
Juggling has been proven to work both sides of the brain, something she said has impacts beyond the gym.
“It also helps on the academics side as well,” Hanson said.
Learning to juggle requires the children to reach across their body and focus on where several moving parts are at once. All of that combined is known as “crossing the mid-line,” Hanson said.
“Crossing the mid-line has been proven to train both sides of the brain,” she added.
Rosa and her classmates struggled at first, but as the nearly hour-long class continued, they became more proficient.
“It is that easy. Just alternate your hands,” Pfeffer said as the children poured their effort into juggling properly.
Rosa said she enjoyed the juggling and is ready to find a few items at home with which to practice.