Jump Rope: Five Childhood Lessons

I spent hours and hours as a kid jumping rope. We played in the school yard, on the driveway, on the sidewalk, even in the  street when there was no traffic. everyone wanted to jump, no one wanted to be the turner…so we swapped out to make sure everyone got to play. We played tag while jumping rope. We made up rhymes and songs while jumping rope. We even jumped with multiple ropes and sometimes backwards to make it more challenging. I enjoyed watching these Japanese children jumping rope, taking turns, laughing all along the way. 

I learned a lot jumping rope. First, you have to take turns as you play so everyone gets a chance. Some were better at jumping than others. And some were better turning than others. Some did both very well. It was all about taking turns so everyone got a chance. My second lesson was that you need to be clear on the rules up front otherwise arguments can squelch the fun. I remember the conflict we had when friends didn’t agree, people cheated or pouting started. By understanding up front what everyone agrees on, you have backup when someone doesn’t play by the rules. And when the rule breaking is spotted, you need to call it out early. Or else it may be too late to correct it…so know the rules from the beginning. 

The third thing I learned was that it takes practice to get better. The girls who jumped the most became the best. They were the ones who always wanted to jump rope instead of swing, or play tag or kick ball…they were good because they jumped rope everyday at recess. And my fourth lesson was the girls that encouraged us to jump with them, no matter how good or bad we performed, they were the people everyone liked to play with. They were kind, and shared, and didn’t have to always win. They were content to let someone else be the best that day. They knew they were good and just wanted others to play with. 

The fifth and final lesson I will share is that someone had to organize the game, get the rope, and put it away when recess was over. It was usually the same person, and everyone knew it. When recess hit, we looked to her to lead the way. She never let us down, unless she was out sick that day. She kept it all going and even outside of class we admired her. Leadership transcends jump rope, it sticks with you throughout your life. 

Five important lessons I learned jumping rope. It is amazing how much they apply to life overall, not just surviving recess. As our children have stopped playing outside for fear of strangers or drug dealers, or beacuse no one is home…we have robbed them of these lessons. And I don’t think it would be the same playing jump rope via video game. Some lessons you need to learn and practice for them to stick. 

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