We have recently had several kids who are struggling with jumping. Sure, they clear their feet when they jump, but they are relying on using their hips to lift their feet, rather than push off through the toes. And learning how to land so that they are primed to either jump again, or absorb the shock, has also proven challenging.
So we decided to brainstorm one day and one of the suggested ideas was to have the child lie on their back on a platform swing, move them forward so their feet are touching a wall, and have them push off. As they swing back they will practice absorbing the shock and then pushing again. By having them lie down, their body is in a similar position to if they were jumping in standing. We found the kids loved it. We had to show them a couple of times what to do, and occasionally slow the return down while they were still getting the hang of it, but once they figured it out, they were self propelling themselves on a swing. I don’t know about you, but a majority of our kids love to swing.
Of course, then we decided to get creative. We had them sit at the end of the platform swing to do it. We also used a typical playground style swing after the platform swing. We still had them practice pushing off (and work on the components of jumping) but by having them sit up and hold onto the ropes, they also began to work on the idea of controlling their momentum and how to move their trunk so that it could carry over to swinging at the park.
If kids are working on single leg hopping, or leaping from one foot to the next, you can also do all of the above and have them work with only one leg, or alternate legs (and that sneaks in some coordination)! Also the repetition is great for strengthening their legs and core.
If your swing isn’t set up so that a child can push off a wall, you could also have someone hold a large therapy ball at the end and stabilize it so they could push off of that. Because it has a little more give, they won’t get the same force but it mimics the feel of a trampoline.
Has anyone else tried something along these lines? Have you modified it in other ways? We’d love to hear from you!