Many of our classes gather each morning — regardless of whether the weather — because our outdoor activities have an intrinsic value beyond the obvious health benefits.
Our students participate in jump rope activities regularly, sometimes even daily. The turning of the jump rope is a weaving activity; through the rhythmical turning of the ropes, a golden opportunity is created for a social mixing and blending.
Jump rope is an inherently rhythmical activity. As the students begin the jumping, they experience rhythm; their heartbeat, breathing, and movement all begin to harmonize rhythmically, first individually, then together with other members of the group. This is especially true when the jumping progresses to group jumping: two, three, or four at a time, and again when they pick up the pace and make their way quickly through the line several times, one jump at a time.
Variations of complexity serve to deepen the harmonizing. A well-harmonized group will transition together efficiently. There are additional therapeutic aspects and benefits for those who participate in jump rope activities: consider that when one is on the cusp of entering the circular turning of the rope this wakeful moment requires the student to project themselves into the three-dimensional space beforehand.
Jumping rope requires the student to activate their spatial awareness in three primary dimensions: the above-below, the forward-backward, and the left-right. Picture three planes intersecting at right angles, circumscribed by the turning rope. The student must jump right into the middle of the space! Once inside, they must either continue to jump rhythmically within this mysterious space or jump out of it again! The whole time that they are within this space envelope their spatial awareness is activated; they need to be subtly aware of it in order to remain within, until the moment when they choose to leave it again. If their spatial awareness is not sufficiently strong, the rope will inform them of this weakness. Their work is to awaken and strengthen this subtle sense with each next effort. Developing facility with these spatial planes and spheres of movement activity has far-reaching and tangible pedagogical benefits for students.
The rope turner develops and maintains a steady, even rhythm and a nicely formed swinging arc. They need to be able to make subtle changes to this approach for each jumper. This is a synergistic endeavor: the two turners and the jumper all need to harmonize their rhythms constantly. The challenges of this activity are doubled when two ropes are turned simultaneously (see our grades five students jumping this morning in the photo below). Spatial and rhythmical awareness of a different kind are schooled for the rope turners. A social harmonizing aspect enters in when students are asked to serve their peers by turning the rope in such a way that each can jump successfully.