We are delighted to welcome Frances Liberto back to TAN Homeschool
What is “Trampoline Homeschooling”?? I’m glad you asked!
We recently welcomed a new trampoline to our back yard. To some this may seem an extravagant purchase; our deliberations on the matter were thorough but brief. For our family, a trampoline is a crucial part of our homeschooling life. When our old trampoline fell apart (we’d had it only two years but were its fourth owners), we just had to replace it. Here’s why:
Jumping and running around on a trampoline can be quite a workout – a fun one that children don’t even realize they’re getting. Trampoline use can get the heart rate up, tone muscles, and improve balance and coordination. If a child does not participate in organized sports or other fitness activities (such as hiking, bicycle riding, or martial arts), a trampoline is another way they can build their strength and endurance. If they are athletes, trampoline use can be cross-training. For our family, encouraging and/or allowing our students to use the trampoline often counts as a significant portion of homeschool Physical Education (PE). Kids are usually eager to have their parents participate in trampoline fun (“Please come jump with me!”), so we adults can burn some calories there, too.
Students can work toward their trampoline time if you want to make it a reward for completing assignments, or they can take breaks between subjects or during intense studying to recharge. My six-year-old has heard “finish your math and then you can go jump” more often than she’d like but it works!
Change of Environment
Sometimes homeschooling occurs ON the trampoline. When my oldest was just a toddler, I observed my homeschooling neighbor reading aloud to her son while he bounced or stretched out on the trampoline. Perhaps the physical activity, outdoor air, or different scenery is just what a child needs to focus on a lesson or process newly acquired information. It’s also possible that walking out to the trampoline (and perhaps jumping a bit) helps the parent adjust an unpleasant attitude or release some stress in the middle of a tough day of schooling (and training and disciplining) her child(ren). Or maybe the trampoline becomes a kind of safety zone for the child who wants his own space, away from the mother or the toddler…at least when it’s his turn to have alone time there!
Trampoline time can definitely become educational if kids are given a little guidance. Or parents can get up there with their kids and engage them in some learning activities.** For the younger set, tromping around and gesturing in time with nursery rhymes and other such songs challenges both the mind and the body. For example, they might circle the trampoline and jump as high as they can at just the right time during “Pop! Goes the Weasel.” Or they can practice left/right differentiation and limb coordination toward the center of the trampoline during the “Hokey Pokey.” If you’re not averse to using sidewalk chalk on your trampoline surface, you can find several activities to help preschoolers practice their letter recognition, counting, and memorization.
For older kids, following instructions and practicing simple calisthenics like “balance on one leg,” “do ten jumping jacks,” and “run backwards around the perimeter” might pose new challenges on the trampoline and keep exercise interesting. For children of all ages, trampoline time can help them practice their memory work; they might skip count or recite verses while jumping, or they could incorporate geography, foreign language, or other subjects into games like tag (e.g., one person calls out a state – “Nebraska!” – while tagging the other, and the other must reply with the capital – “Lincoln!” – before he can tag back with another state).
I’ve been amazed by the imaginative games my children play on our trampoline. Our neighbors showed us how to toss a bunch of balls of all sizes onto the surface and then pretend they were bombs and try to avoid them while jumping around. With permission, our kids have brought other items up there and used them in all kinds of pretend scenarios. They’ve acted out scenes or used superpowers they’ve discovered in books, movies, and shows. The trampoline becomes a stage on which children can practice what they’ve seen or imagine what they haven’t.
I’m not writing all this to convince every homeschooling family that they need a trampoline. But for those of you who already have one or who are considering adding one in the mix, please help your children to use it well. When the weather and time allow, send them out there to try something I’ve mentioned…or get out there yourself and engage them in some active learning.
I’d love to know how the trampoline fits into your homeschooling lifestyle – please share stories and ideas in the comments below!
**Some may not feel that it is safe for multiple people to use a trampoline simultaneously. The rest of us must be attentive to weight limits and each individual’s ability and comfort while jumping together.
About Frances Liberto
If you have questions or would like to share your own stories, photos and ideas with us, please feel free to leave a comment below or write to us via email or social media. Don’t forget to Follow us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter!