There are so many precursors to being able to jump. When a child is able to jump for the first time; it tends to happen between 2 and 2.5 years old, there have been some big developmental boxes ticked behind the scenes.
Being able to coordinate both sides of your body is essential for two footed jumping. Children may often begin by stepping, or stepping with a little bounce with one foot then the other. The shifting weight and balancing on one leg is a really important phase before the final “jump.” It really is a sequential development starting with leg strength, balance, coordination and some great motor planning!
When you jump there is a lot to consider, as adults we do it without thinking. Your torso needs to stay upright, your knees must bend, the strength in your legs need to power your feet to push from the floor and your toes must be able to stretch and point towards the ground. Phew! That’s not even mentioning all the balance, coordination and body awareness!
So how do jumping and STEAM subjects combine?
Jumping is a great opportunity to explain energy transfers to children. The build up is pure potential energy. The bend of the knees is like a coiled spring. When the jump explodes the energy transfers from potential to the kinetic energy; moving energy!
Did you know jumping and rhythm awareness go hand in hand; or foot in foot?! (Haha oh dear.) Children will need to understand rhythm to achieve repeated jumping; either on the spot or plyometric jumping. Stimulating the same area of the brain responsible for pattern recognition, simple maths in the making!
What’s really interesting is that studies are now being conducted investigating the impact of movement on maths skill. A study in the Netherlands concluded that “... motor enriched learning activities can improve mathematical performance.” https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2016.00645/full
So each time your little frog jumps all around your house, the park, the supermarket, Granny’s house, school, the beach… wherever they may be, rest easy that they’re becoming a little maths whizz!
Try these activities at home…
- Make a jumping course with cushions; hills and valleys are a great way to build vital leg strength and depth perception
- Hopscotch - simple, old school fun! Shifting weight and balancing their body
- Try using a pool noodle to jump over, getting higher and higher
- Using masking tape on the floor make jump lines; to jump on! Great for visualising motor planning
- Play with jump timing; slow jumps, fast jumps, jump jump jump STOP (quite tricky to be giddily jumping and stop, try it!)
One last thing…
Lots of time spent without shoes on is really important to build the strength in those little feet ready for jumping. The best way for little ones to learn to jump is by watching and experiencing it, so… jump jump jump!
NOTE Granny Fern recommends The Pointer Sisters - Jump as your jumping soundtrack!