by Kerstin Pintus, Victoria Klocek, & Andrea Jordan | Grades Faculty Members
Recently the first grade students have been making jump ropes by hand-twisting yarn into long ropes. They are so happy and proud about all the things they can do and create with their hands.
Jump ropes are accessible, portable, and versatile! Take them with you on trips or long car rides during the holidays. Jumping rope provides a multitude of benefits to support a healthy development in your child. It:
- can help improve your cognitive function because it involves learning new motor patterns, which improves the nervous system communication between your brain, wrists, and lower leg muscles. This, in turn, helps to improve your overall cognitive function.
- aids in the development of the left and right hemispheres of your brain, which further enhances spatial awareness, improves reading skills, increases memory, and makes you more mentally alert. Jumping on the balls of your feet requires your body and mind to make neural muscular adjustments to imbalances created from continuous jumping. As a result, jumping improves dynamic balance and coordination, reflexes, bone density, and muscular endurance.
- helps to develop coordination and integrate the upper and lower body to move together.
- improves cardiorespiratory, heart health, and stamina, as well as improves how efficiently you breathe.
- increases the elasticity and resiliency of lower-leg muscles, leading to a reduced risk of lower-leg injuries.
- improves bone health.
- helps you find your rhythm.
In addition to these physical benefits, combining physical motion with speech is a powerful learning tool. Here are some suggestions for other ways to use jump ropes:
- Lay the jump rope on the ground and hop over the rope. Can you do it on one foot? Can you do it on the other foot? Can you hop back and forth while reciting “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick” or another poem.
- Lay the jump rope on the ground and pretend it’s a balance beam, walking beside it VERY slowly, placing each foot perfectly heel-to-toe. Then, carefully lift (and hold!) a leg in the air and slowly place your foot down, heel first, then toe, directly in front of the first foot. Continue this way, as slowly as you can. The more slowly, the better!
- With shoes and socks off, can you lift the jump rope with your toes? See if you can move it forwards, backwards, to your left and to your right. Can you give it back to your hand, using only your toes?
- Have two adults hold the rope above the ground, starting a few inches above and gradually increase the height with each successful jump. Count each jump aloud.
- Counting aloud while rope jumping is always beneficial, especially if the child says one number for each jump. This can also be done with each step for the balance beam exercise above. Moving with one motion for each number builds one-to-one correspondence and is much more beneficial than counting as fast as you can! I expect the students to be strong by now in counting by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s. We have also extensively practiced skip counting by 3s, 4s, 6s, 9s, often whispering the in-between numbers, but I do not expect mastery of these yet! Please use the jump rope to playfully reinforce the 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s.* Your first grader can simply count (or count together with you) while jumping or they can use a jump rope rhyme like this one to get started:
Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish
How many pieces do you wish?
[Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five…]*If counting by these numbers is difficult for your child, please do not worry! Keep practice playful and light, model counting things you see and an enjoyment of numbers, and trust that your child is on their own journey toward mastering these concepts. Start with 1s, then 2s, then 10s, then 5s. If this is easy for your child, instead of practicing more difficult skip counting straight away, see how high they can count accurately by these numbers. Can they start in a random place (“68, 70, 72, 74…”)? Can they count backwards by that number? Can they then recite what they have counted while not in motion?Enjoy exploring fun things to do with your jump rope! We hope that you and your child will enjoy this healthy and joyful activity for many years to come.