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May 21, 2016 / sharoncopy

Jumping Rope All Day

It was just TOO nice out to stay in the gym to finish up the jumping rope module as specified, so I asked the principal if I could take the kids outside and we agreed on a good area of blacktop to use. This meant that I hauled about 50 rubber jump ropes and a chair half way through the school, cutting through the lunch room, around a couple of bends, and out the “first and second grade door.” Unfortunately the ropes that the kids carried somehow got quite tangled. 😦 And – I really only needed about 30. At lunch/recess time, excited “other” kids walked off with several of them while I was (still) trying to make a neat arrangement of them to take inside so that the rest of them wouldn’t walk off. What I learned: 1. have the kids lay them out “like snakes” on the sidewalk and then I can grab 10 ends and 2. loop-tie them together in bunches.

With the older kids (3rd-4th) they jumped rope individually for awhile – doing laps around the lot, and then having a contest of sorts to see who could jump the most without messing up. One 4th grader in particular was a regular robot-jumping machine – it was a delight to watch him and apparently he got up to 180 and probably only stopped then because he had already done a couple hundred before that. Then we split into groups to use the longer ropes to twirl and jump. I switched from group to group encouraging and explaining and stopping enthusiastic would-be-twirlers (mostly boys) from doing it crazily.”Your job,” I told them, “is to help the jumpers have success.”

I took the 4th graders out in front of the school to avoid being near the recess time in back (per principal’s suggestion) and at one point I encouraged a few kids to try “jumping in” and encouraged some of the better jumpers to jump two or three at a time. It’s funny how you remember things from long ago – I taught them (with a slight change of wording) a jump rope song from my youth – “Changing classes, number 1, changing classes, number 2, etc.” Two jumpers face each other and then switch places and then again and again. About 5 of the kids really enjoyed trying this.*

The last group was the Kindergartners. Some had never jumped to a twirled rope before. Fortunately for me, there was a parapro out there, so – with another adult – we twirled for about a half hour. Each child got a couple of chances with each turn and some did quite well, to the delight of their classmates who were very supportive.  One girl was so afraid the rope would hit her in the head (it cleared about at least a foot…..) that she ducked and jumped away every time. She never quite got the hang of it. We matched our twirling to the speed and jumping style of the child if possible. For instance, some jumpers (mostly girls) jump and have a little hop afterwards, necessitating a slower motion for us to allow for the time. But many – and especially a lot of the boys – just jump – two feet together. Jump. Jump. Jump – trying hard to figure out when to do so.

I remember that feeling of excitement and, well, fear, that I used to feel. It was risky business for those of us who were only so-so jumpers. I wish I could have jumped today, actually, but I’m too out of shape to manage it.

The funniest part was Emma. With each jump she moved forward about a foot, so we kept moving over with her, little by little. So the last time she took a turn, we started about six feet further away. She jumped and jumped and jumped, and we moved, and moved and moved, and pretty soon she was almost to the line of kids and some of them yelled, (as you can imagine dramatic 5-year-olds doing) “Look out!” and they all scattered as we moved along with Emma until finally we got to the building. We laughed. She grinned. I gave her a hug.

I just noticed that I have a couple more days of P.E. scheduled already. Good.

*When one of the girls faltered, the boy who was the best jumper in our group suggested, “Or I could do it.” I find it intriguing that a child who is good at something will often treat it as a job that needs to be done and he is the best one qualified for it – rather than understanding that it is the “doing” of it by each person – the “learning” that is important, not the accomplishment of the task. I wonder if we as parents foster this when we take over a task at home because we can do it faster or better ourselves. I remember times when I asked my kids to get out of the way so I could rush down or up the stairs for some urgent reason (rather than following them slowly on that occasion) and I even said, “Let me go first because I’m faster.” Ouch. What I was teaching them was that those who can do it better should go first, although I sure didn’t think about it that minute.
At school, this same thinking often leads a good reader to blurt out the answer rather than waiting for a classmate to sound it out himself. I tell them they are not helping – rather, they are taking the other person’s turn away. I say, “How about if I have you run around the parking lot to help me get into shape – will that work?” They get the point – giving a classmate the answer is like doing the other kid’s exercise for him. “Let him use his own brain!” I say.


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