How can you help a toddler learn to jump
September 4, 2014 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Our son, who recently turned three, doesn't know how to jump. When my wife and I ran through a review of his skills and abilities at this point as part of his general check-up, he scored well with or above on all tests, except gross motor skills, namely jumping. How can we help him learn this skill?

First, we have an evaluation scheduled for the near future, so we'll get some professional feedback and guidance soon, but I was wondering if there was anything we could do with him at home.

We've showed him how we jump, and held his hands as he has "jumped" off low objects on to carpeted floor, or "jumped" on the bed, but it's really just me or my wife asking our son to jump, while we give him the lift to get off his feet. And when he "jumps" into the pool into our arms, he mostly leans forward and falls, with his legs bent.

He did have a couple tumbles when he was learning to walk, so he was really cautious and a bit delayed in confidentially walking by himself, but now he runs around with glee and abandon. He's a pretty smart kid, and we love to play physical games with him, but it seems something isn't clicking.

Looking online has been tricky, as I see a lot of physical activities and games that involve jumping, assuming your child is already able to jump. Kiddo can walk on his tip-toes, and can squat down and then stand back up, but hasn't yet connected all those pieces to jump up. Any ideas for games and activities to help him put it all together? Thanks!
posted by filthy light thief to Health & Fitness (18 answers total)
What about hopping? Hopping is kind of like jumping in place. Maybe get some music going and ask him to hop like a bunny with you? Showing him how Tigger gets from place to place might also be appealing. I am pretty sure I learned to jump and hop and bounce because of how often I heard or watched "The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers" as a toddler. :)
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:57 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

First of all, don't be too worried about it. Child development guidelines are approximate, and every child is different. If everything else is OK, it's probably not going to be any kind of a problem.

That said, here's an article on Learning to Jump that provides some "introductory" exercises.
posted by ubiquity at 11:59 AM on September 4, 2014

This is a developmental stage, not a skill he should be taught. He'll jump when he's ready, and trying to teach him this won't make him ready.
posted by Capri at 12:00 PM on September 4, 2014 [11 favorites]

Have the little dude stand on a coffee table and "jump" (i.e., fall forward) toward you while you're sitting on the couch. Eventually he'll get to where he wants to catch some more air and he'll bend those little knees and jump to you.
posted by resurrexit at 12:03 PM on September 4, 2014

Just play games with him that encourage him to jump. Don't make it about jumping necessarily, just stuff where a jump would be a natural part of the game's progress.


jumping jacks

putting a hula hoop on the floor and jumping into it because it's a portal to a make believe world

measuring lines on the wall of height, height+hands reached in the air, and height+how high he could reach if he were Superman trying to fly over a building

pretend the whole family is bunnies

pretend the whole family is frogs

permission to jump on your bed

posted by phunniemee at 12:04 PM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't think my daughter jumped at 3. I don't remember when she learned, but she was clearly late in the jumping game.

One afternoon a little boy who lived down the road said "Hey Marjorie, look, you do it like this -- bend your knees and..." and that was it, and she could jump fine from that day on. I'm sure I had tried to show her. It just wasn't going to happen until she was ready, and that was fine. She's a normal jumping 7yo now.
posted by kmennie at 12:05 PM on September 4, 2014

My nephew wasn't able to jump for a long time - for him it was connected to Childhood Aphasia of Speech.
His speech problem and his inability to jump both stemmed from a lack of motor coordination. For speech, we have to coordinate our diaphragm, tongue and lips, and he couldn't get them all to work together. Jumping is similar in that it requires coordination of different muscle groups - toes, calves, thighs, butt.
He's fine now. Speech therapy took care of the speech issues and one day he just figured out how to jump.
posted by Coffeemate at 12:14 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

If he's well above most other areas, don't worry about it. In time, it will come too. Every child develops differently, strong in some areas and weak in others. Three is not "too old" to not know how to jump.

Picture it this way... by the time he's 18, he'll be able to jump, even if he was 6 before he learned to do it properly. Not worth worrying about, unless there's some compelling reason he needs to jump.

My wife works with children with special needs, and is well versed in child development benchmarks. So this isn't expert advice, but it is expert hearsay.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:15 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hey, our son didn't learn to jump until he was four!

This is only a concern insofar as it is an indicator of a broader issue with your son's gross motor development. Your son doesn't need to know how to jump, per se. There is no need to teach him. It's good you're getting him evaluated, though.

In the case of our family, the jumping thing was an indicator of a broader gross-motor issue. He started seeing a physical therapist, which was very helpful.
posted by alms at 12:18 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

By my resources he's still well within the typical limit for learning how to do this. If his walking and other milstones were within the ball park, I wouldn't worry. You can give him opportunities to participate in physical play (e.g., playing at the playground, taking walks, swimming, etc.) and it should develop all on it's own when he's ready.
posted by goggie at 12:19 PM on September 4, 2014

My daughter was a late jumper as well - she has only started in the last 3-4 months, and she will be 3 soon. We noticed when she turned 2 that she wasn't jumping yet, while most of her peers were. She just wasn't that interested at the time. We enrolled her in a gymnastics class, and she really loved the trampoline... she would just pretend to jump for a long time. It took about 6 months of practicing before she would actually leave her feet, but she eventually got it. Now she loves jumping.
posted by barnoley at 12:55 PM on September 4, 2014

I second the trampoline. My daughter didn't learn until this summer, and her 3rd birthday was in March. I was also going to bring it up at her next appointment, but she figured it out on her own. We got this folding one, and it's been great.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:03 PM on September 4, 2014

Sure he can jump. Take him to the pool as often as you can. Kids love to play around and drop/jump/dive from stuff. Take a ball, play catch in the water. Throw the kid around. Let him bring friends. Make it a fun new experience, instead of trying to solve a problem. It is only a matter of time, don't worry about it.
posted by ouke at 1:09 PM on September 4, 2014

Agreed with snickerdoodle and barnoley, a trampoline is a great idea. My daughter received this one for xmas when she was 19 months and started jumping immediately - the bar makes it intuitive and easy. She still loves it almost two years later.

Otherwise though, don't fret it - he'll jump when he's ready.
posted by goo at 2:36 PM on September 4, 2014

My husband and I goofed/danced around to the jump jump song for our toddler, and it was fun for all, but yeah, the trampoline was more effective in actual learning.
posted by cestmoi15 at 5:18 PM on September 4, 2014

Things that seemed to help my favourite tiny person learn to jump:

- Seeing adults jump (a lot, the adults in her life are a silly bunch)
- Seeing other kids jump (very motivating).
- Rambunctious general running about and playing in the playground, climbing up and down and on and off things and so forth.
- Crazy fun overexcited assisted jumping bouncy times! Accompanying sound effects and giggling are required.

She spent a lot of time trying to jump, on her own, just bending her knees and standing up again and not quite lifting off. Maybe a month of random practicing, whenever she saw other people jumping?

Jumping OFF things came much later than jumping from standing. It's a lot more scary.
posted by emilyw at 2:04 AM on September 5, 2014

Thanks for the comments and ideas, everyone. It's reassuring to hear about how and when other little people understand jumping and other physical activities.

We went to get our son evaluated, and he's at or above age level for everything, except gross motor skills, exhibited at this age by jumping and balancing. Because of that, no one at the evaluation location was concerned with him and his abilities.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:34 AM on October 15, 2014

That's great news, filthy light thief. Rock on little filthy!
posted by goo at 1:44 PM on October 16, 2014

« Older Perfect for a Ceiling Cat - Unfortunately   |   To which secret society does this belong? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.