Most typically developing children are able to jump around the time they are 3 years old. However, every child develops differently, so some may start jumping before or after. Jumping requires a combination of strength, balance and coordination. Most children will meet this milestone on their own when they are ready.
Here are 5 fun exercises you can do with your child to help them along:
1. Cue your child to squat down low like a frog, wait a few seconds and then jump! Or count down from 10 while they are in a low squat and tell them to blast off like a rocket. Even if they are not getting off the ground, performing a deep squat and rising back to standing helps to strengthen their leg muscles needed for jumping. Encouraging them to stand up quickly helps them to learn to propel themselves upward.
2. Model jumping for your child. Show them how you squat and then jump upward with both feet at the same time. Then hold your child’s hands and tell them to jump with you. Giving them support for jumping allows them to practice the action and experience getting off the ground.
3. Have your child practice jumping on a mini trampoline while holding your hands or a sturdy bar (if attached to the trampoline). The mini trampoline helps your child get the momentum needed to get air while developing the coordination needed for jumping.
4. Have your child jump off a low step or curb. This is easier than jumping up themselves because it doesn’t require as much upward momentum but allows them to practice jumping and landing on both feet.
5. Have your child rise up on their toes to strengthen their calf muscles. Strong calf muscles will help your child propel themselves upward and off the ground for jumping. Blow bubbles over their head so that they try to pop them or have them reach for a desired toy up high. Going up on their toes without holding onto something also helps improve their balance.
If you are concerned that your child is not making progress toward learning to jump, a pediatric physical therapist can help. Contact our clinic today at 330-867-2240 or click here to schedule an appointment.
-Julie Butt, PT, DPT