Children practice jumping from a high place with padded equipment
Jumping out of trees, jumping off a ledge, jumping from climbing frames and off of swings or from other high places was once a very natural and regular occurrence for young children. Sadly, as some kids are moving less so are the opportunities for them to experience jumping from high places and to practice landing well. But let’s not despair. It’s never too late to start!
There are fun and safe ways to encourage proficiency for this vital developmental milestone. If you know the benefits of jumping from a high place, how to teach the proper techniques, the step-by-step progression for the littlest ones and the exciting ice-cream cone story, you’ll be good to go.
Increase the confidence, strength and physical skills of your children
You may ask: Why is it so important for children to learn about jumping from a high place? The answer is that there are so many benefits including fundamental motor skills, physical strength and emotional confidence.
- Emotional Regulation is learned through facing fears and overcoming them.
- Dynamic Balance is developed through learning to control the body while in the “flight” phase.
- Motor Planning is important for keeping the upper body upright and the legs bent to absorb the landing.
- Static Balance is needed to hold one’s balance on landing without falling forward or backward.
- Body Awareness is developed by learning the limitations and capabilities of one’s own body.
- Spatial Awareness & Physical Self-confidence are needed to to discern if and when it is safe to jump.
- Bone Density is developed through weight-bearing activities that also improve physical strength.
Teach your children to jump from a high place
I use these six techniques with sturdy benches and with padded equipment when teaching indoors.
- Be sure that the landing area is safe with no sharp corners or objects nearby.
- Have the children start with the arms at the side and the eyes looking forward.
- Keeping the eyes up helps to keep the chest up. When a child looks down the upper body also drops down.
- Swing the arms in an upward direction in front of the body on take off.
- Have the legs bent on landing to absorb the jump, but not so bent that one lands on the bottom.
- The arms should end up next to the ears on landing. Once safely landed the child can straighten up.
Tell the exciting ice-cream cone story
I like to tell the children that they are reaching up to catch two ice-cream cones from a tree when they jump up. When landing they have to keep holding their ice-cream cones up high so the dogs don’t eat them. This little story adds a visual prompt and imaginative play that they really enjoy. It is surprising how it helps them to achieve a successful, safe landing.
Try out creative visual prompts and stories for other activities as well. It will make movement time fun and to help the children with learning physical skills.
Encourage learning step-by-step
Encourage very young children to jump from a height in increments:
1. Hold a scared child’s hand at first.
2. Next, let them hold just your baby finger.
3. Then have them do it on their own with you standing close.
4. Let them show you how well they can do it on their own.
Remember that repetition and plenty of praise will build a child’s physical self-confidence. Children generally start to show an interest in jumping at about 18 months. A regular physical education program such as MoovKids, with a focus on learning the fundamental movement skills through purposeful teaching and imaginative games, activities and challenges—such as jumping from a high place—is vital for children now more than ever.
Jump high and land well!
P.S.: I am happy to have a free call with you to discuss your movement needs. Whether it be about your curriculum goals, resources, equipment or just general class management for movement, I will gladly assist however I can.