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10 Tips for Working with Young Jumpers (5-6)

alexJumping rope is visually appealing and children are often drawn to the activity early on, but can easy give up if it’s too difficult. Typically students are developmentally ready to START learning to jump rope in 1st grade. Some students are ready earlier.

As educators, we work to develop interest and enthusiasm by implementing lessons and primers that will develop confidence, coordination, proper jumping technique and ongoing interest.

Some kids may take to it naturally while others struggle. Some helpful coaching, smart sequencing and slow progressions can make a big difference early on.

Jumping rope is a wonderful working metaphor for goal setting, effort, avoiding comparisons and perseverance. If we can help children develop these attributes, our job as parents and educators becomes more meaningful, effective and long lasting.

Emphasize effort. Results will follow.

 1. Keep activity bouts short.
Introduce a few activities that last only 2-3 minutes each. The entire lesson should not be more than 20 minutes for students aged 4-6. Leave them wanting more.

2. Offer non jumping alternatives
Developing strength, coordination and a joy of rope jumping can be done by participating in other non jump rope activities:
Broad Jumps: Tape painters tape at varying distances and work on take off and landing.
Circle Jumps: Make a circle with your rope. Follow commands by teacher such as: jump in, jump out, run around your circle, skip around your circle
Swing and Catch: Develop the correct spinning motion by standing in front of a beanbag or cone. Try and spin the rope overheard and “catch the cone, or beanbag”
Use Magic Ropes – a jump rope with the middle cut out and foam glued to the ends.

 3. K.I.S.S
Early on it’s important to keep it simple. The aim here is not for our children to be jumping rope right away. We are helping to build confidence, and positive attitudes toward physical activity. Lessons should be clear, simple and build on prior knowledge.

4. Make it fun.
Use of music, goal charts, and games can entice our young jumpers. And if you are enjoying yourself and staying positive, it’s likely so will your students will too.

5. Model
Children need role models. When adults attempt new things, and model goal setting, our students notice. By emulating positive ways to response to adversity and challenges, our kids can see that mistakes are ok, and everyone makes them.

So, grab a rope, and be willing to try your best, so your children can see what that looks like.

6. Add some basic skills!
As a general rule, we should build on prior knowledge and skill. But when it comes to our young ones, it’s ok to jump ahead and alllow students, who can’t seem to master basic skills go ahead and try some “tricks”.  Please see my list of  “success-oriented” skills below as a guide. These skills are basic in nature and can provide some fun alternatives to the basic bounce or bunny jump.

And by giving young students more choices, their interest and engagement will increase, and ultimately improved coordination and fitness.

7. Gamify
It’s taken me many years of teaching to develop a better understanding of what motivates youth. From intrinsic to extrinsic reward motivation to competition, recognition and more; finding what motivates an individual can unlock a world of teaching opportunities.  Gamification seems to touch on many of the core drives of human behavior & we can use the techniques to entice various learning styles.  Just about anything can be “gamified” and hence improved upon over time.

Simply put, gamification is a system of turning learning experiences into games which may include point scoring, leveling up, avoiding defeat, rules of play and competition with others. I tend to avoid competition with others while my young jumpers are still developing basic skills and also their confidence and self esteem.

Here are some examples of gamification in my jump rope program:

Personal Best 
This simple concept rewards a student for “beating their best score”
1. Turn on music.
2. Count your jumps.
3. After you miss, record your score.
4. Next bout, try and beat your score.
5. Reward: may be a sticker, verbal recognition, personal pat on the back or other.
6. Track it: Keep a record of your “personal best” score.

I run Personal Best at the conclusion of every jump rope class I teach and my students love it!
For my first few classes I emphasize the following:
1. You get ONE bout to try and beat your score.
2. When you miss, sit down and wait for the others around you to finish!
3. You are competing against YOURSELF
4. Give your best effort and have fun.

Goal Boards:
I place “I Can” posters around the room, over various difficulty levels, keeping in mind that I want all of my students to be able to sign at least one poster (remember we are working with very young students, who are still developing emotionally.)
Once a student has completed the skill or activity, then can sign the goal board.

As students work on these goal bards, I make sure to walk the room and discuss the importance of effort over results with high fives and words of encouragement.  I work avoid only giving praise to students who acquire a skill, rather I focus on their efforts.  This will go a long way in encouraging students to try new things – creating a culture of inclusion.

Examples of “I Can” Posters for young jumpers:
1. I can beat my personal best score. Students work at this station as long as they need to try and beat their best score.
2. I can jump rope for one minute without taking a rest break.  Mistakes are ok, as long as they keep their bodies moving (remember to have a timer at this station)
3. I can jump for two minutes without taking a break. (same as above) Discussions on fitness and heart health are appropriate here (can you feel your heart beating?)
4. I can jump rope backwards 5 times. (mistakes are ok, just a total of 5 backward jumps.  Many young jumpers do better going backwards)
5. I can “Walk the Dog” and catch the handle.
6. I can “M&M” (a very simple skill)
7. I can jump forward 10 times
8. I can “Jog n Jump” around the gym one time. (again mistakes are fine. movement is all that matters here)
9. I can “Swing and Stop” 10 times without missing.
10. I can I can do the cross.  (more advanced)

This fun game helps students develop spatial awareness and timing.
Watch the video to see it in action below.
This is an elimination game, so Educators should determine if their students are ready for such an activity. I do find all of my young students love this game, and look forward to it.
To maintain enthusiasm, when students are eliminated from play, they line up by my side, giving me “suggestions” on locomotor movements to complete as they pass under the rope. They can also suggest other actions such as “sing a particular song” or fun stuff like “walk like an old man”  The kids get a kick out of that an being creative.

1. Start with a long rope over 20′ held between a teacher and helper.  Students (10 at a time) stand facing the rope.
2. The turns spin the rope 3 times back door, before changing the direction of the rope by gliding in along the ground, toward the toes of the participants.
3. As the rope changes direction, the participants follow the rope and run under to the other side.
4. Turn around and repeat.
5. If you: don’t go, trip, slide or tell someone else they are out, YOU’RE OUT.
6. Go stand by teacher and make suggestions.
NOTE: Teachers, learn to spin the rope and watch your students actions.  Help them by turning slowly and being cautious and drop the rope, if a foot gets hung up.

8. Watch Videos
Use your phone to capture your young jumper or family members jumping rope or attempting to learn skills.  The feedback given is immediate and it’s simply fun for kids to see themselves.  It’s also exciting to watch other kids who have mastered jumping.

9. Other tip

10. Use a long rope