Jumping is a motor milestone that requires strength, balance, coordination, body awareness and motor planning. When practicing jumping we want to be sure to expose our children to different environments around them, with feet bare the child is able to interact with the unique texture of the ground surface.
Practice on soft grass, padded mats, carpet and hardwood. Each surface offers its own challenges to the child as they begin practicing jumping! Use other children as models, as peer play is essential to the acquisition of motor milestones. Children observe and learn from others.
- Jumping forward with one foot leading: 18-24 months
- Jumping in place with two feet together: 22-24 months
- Jumping off small platform landing with two feet: 24-30 months
- Jumping over obstacles: 30-36 months
- Jumping forward with two foot take off and landing: 36 months
- Hopping on one foot: 48 months
It is important to not rush each child’s skills along. Jumping occurs in a step wise manner, with children first experimenting with weight shifting, jumping down, jumping over, jumping up, hopping on one foot, and finally alternating hopping on single leg and double leg as in hopscotch. All milestones occur on a continuum and we can help support and encourage our little ones as they grow and experiment with new activities!
Tips to Teach Children to Jump Independently
Using tactile footprints helps to designate a colorful starting and ending position for the child. The gentle texture of the footprint helps activate the plantar intrinsic muscles of the foot as they grip the floor.
Platform jumps allow us to practice jumping down from low height, jumping over and jumping up! We love using the interlocking balance beam as it provides helpful proprioceptive input especially with bare feet. Add in the tactile footprints to provide visual & tactile cues to promote narrowed base of support during jumping.
Floor Ladder Jumps
Once child masters jumping over colored tape, you can begin to introduce obstacles which promote more vertical height. These hurdles are great because you can gradually increase height to challenge the child as they develop more strength, balance and control in jumping skills!
The hoop ladder is a fun tool to practice jumping, promoting narrowed base of support as child is motivated to plant feet inside colorful hoop. The hoop ladder can also be used to promote sequence jumps, changing configuration to teach children open-close jumps in preparation for hop scotch!
A foam hop scotch floor puzzle can be used to practice open close jumps, jumping forward and sideways as child progresses to each number, and ultimately single leg to double leg jumps.
Jumping Red Flags
It is important to contact your Pediatrician or a Pediatric Physical Therapist if around 2.5-3 years of age your child continues to show difficulty jumping and you notice any of the following:
- Asymmetric Jumping (pushing off only from one side)
- Lacking Power in Push Off (not able to gain vertical clearance in jumps)
- Frequent Falls (legs not supporting child upon landing jumps)
- Anxiety or Frustration (demonstrating resistance or fear of jumping preventing the child from conquering this motor skill)
For activity ideas to promote jumping read “Fun Activities…with Colored Spots!”