Jumping feet first into muddy puddles as water splashed onto our rain boots is a fond childhood memory many of us experienced. Even though jumping in puddles creates a dirty, wet mess for many parents, jumping is an important gross motor milestone for children.
Toddlers first learn how to jump off low surfaces such as the last step or curb around 24 months. Between 26- 36 months, children will gain the strength and confidence to jump up from a leveled surface, the ground. Jumping requires balance, coordination, strength, and courage. The first step to learning to jump is exploration of balance. 2-year-olds may begin by shifting their weight back and forth to experience the sensation of one foot in the air.
Each child learns to jump differently as they explore one’s body weight and balance. Some may jump with both feet on first jump, and others mays jump with one foot in front of the other. Most children learn to jump through exploration, but for children that seem reluctant or uninterested, here are some tips to encourage their first jump!
Make jumping look fun and adventurous by squatting really low and jumping off the ground. Model jumping over a toy, jumping to touch the ceiling, or jumping on a trampoline. Your child will begin to show more interest after watching family members model the skill.
· Teach squats
The first step to learning to jump is bending your knees low to the ground and standing back up. Squats not only mimic the movement of jumping, but they provide strengthening of the necessary muscles.
· Frog jumps
The next step to learning to jump is squatting low and hopping off the ground. This version is slightly easier than jumping from standing tall, and provides more visuals. Pretend to be frogs jumping from one lily pad to the next! Make it more fun by dressing in green and shouting “ribbit ribbit”.
· Hold hands
Holding your child’s hand as they jump off a small step or sidewalk curb can provide a steady support. Jumping off of a higher ground requires less strength and skills but allows the child to explore jumping.
Provide targets such as neon tape around and encourage your child to jump from spot to spot. Draw a line with a chalk on the sidewalk for your child to jump over or draw a full hopscotch board!
As with any new skill, give your child positive accolades along the way. “Wow, look at you bend your knees” or “Look how high you jump” can go a long way!
· Make room
Clear an open space in the house or spend time outdoors for your child to explore gross motor activities without fear of hurting oneself.
LUMIERE CHILDREN'S THERAPY🖐️
Drobnjak, Lauren. “CHILD DEVELOPMENT QUICK TIP: LEARNING HOW TO JUMP.” The Inspired Treehouse, 24 Sept. 2014, theinspiredtreehouse.com/child-development-quick-tip-learning-how-to-jump/.
WhattoExpect. “Running, Climbing, Jumping and Kicking.” Whattoexpect, WhattoExpect, 21 Oct. 2014, www.whattoexpect.com/toddler/run-jump/.