May 25, 2011 by Kat Richter
Note to self: do not wear hoop earrings while attempting to teach preschoolers how to jump rope. I nearly lost an earlobe yesterday—several times, actually—and our poor tropical bird mobile looks even worse than it did when I first found it tangled and forgotten about and shoved under a box several weeks ago.
Why am I teaching my preschoolers to jump rope? Believe me: it wasn’t my idea. I’m all about ribbons and scarves and beanbags and soft things that do not have the capacity to turn into lethal weapons when placed into the eager but inexperienced hands of my five year olds.
But jump ropes?
Jump ropes are almost as bad as basketballs. And basketballs are almost as bad hockey sticks. And hockey sticks—well, there’s a reason I keep them hidden.
At the request of my boss, however, I’ve devised an entire week’s worth of lesson plans dedicated to the art of jumping rope. One of the parents has organized a Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser this coming Friday and although I think this is a great idea in theory, I’m less enthused about the practical aspects of the event.
For starters, I have only one student who already knows how to jump rope. (Coincidently, she’s also the only student who can hula hoop). This means that instead of finalizing the dance numbers for our year-end concert (in which the kids will be performing a dramatic interpretation of the children’s book “Giraffe’s Can’t Dance”), I need to teach the remaining 29 children how to jump rope instead.
I thought I could get away with say, five minutes of jump rope practice at the end of each class, but after the earlobe incident, it became clear to me that it’s going to take way more than five minutes.
The good people over at the American Heart Association mailed The School an entire box of jump ropes for the event but they’re way too long and they’re plastic (ie. lethal, especially to tropical bird mobiles).
I found a few nylon cords in the supply cabinet but they’re all different colors and as anyone familiar with the preschool psyche knows, getting the wrong color is a matter of life and death. (We’ve trained the kids to say “You get what you get and you don’t get upset!” whenever one of their disgruntled peers throws a fit but this mantra goes out the window whenever a new “toy” makes an appearance.)
The best part—in my humble opinion—of this entire endeavor is the special jump rope that came in the box from the American Heart Association. It’s longer than the others, and comprised of two strands. If not for my boss, I’d probably still be staring at the box, scratching my head and trying to figure it out.
“Double Dutch,” my boss informed me on his way into the office. “The longer one is for Double Dutch.”
Now, being a white girl from New England, I’m not exactly an expert on Double Dutch. In fact, I have never, as far as I can recall, succeeded (or even attempted) to play Double Dutch. I do believe, however, that it’s possible to engage in said form of sidewalk entertainment without a “special” rope from the American Heart Association. I mean, don’t you just take two regular jump ropes and swing them around in opposite directions? I know nothing about the jumping part but I’m pretty sure I could handle the set up.
I could of couse ask one of my students— the one who actually knows how to jump rope, for example. She can hula hoop with her neck so if any of my five year olds is going to know how to play Double Dutch, it would be her.
Then again, considering the number of incident report forms I’ve already filled out this year, I should probably just hide the special Double Dutch rope with the hockey sticks and stick to protecting my ears against the fervent flailing of my students until Friday’s fundraiser is over with.
Wish me luck.